In the classical period (800 BC – AD 500), suicide held a different connotation than it does today. It was only at the Council of Arles in AD 452 that it was officially condemned as a sin by the Christians.
For the aristocracy of many cultures, it was a viable option to the humiliation of public trial and granted the individual dignity in death that befitted their social standing. Suicide could also be seen as the ultimate act of defiance against tyrants (Cato & Caesar) and allowed the natural flow of assets to pass to heirs (rather than the state).
It was not acceptable for all though. Soldiers, slaves and those accused of capital crimes were not permitted the same grace on suicide.
This article contains 10 of the more famous suicides from Ancient Rome & Greece.