Werther is protagonist of Goethe's The Sufferings of Young Werther. The story is best described in the previous link but I'll give you the highlights... (spoiler warning! Click here to be diverted.)
Werther is in love with an engaged woman, Lotte. Determined to be close to her, Werther, Lotte, and her fiance Albert become close friends. Lotte eventually discovers Werther's feelings for her and things get uncomfortable. It soon becomes apparent to Werther that this love triangle (or vertex?) won't really work out. During this time Werther becomes more and more unwell (more or less soul-sick and mad). His two friends worry for him and do everything they can for their sick friend but Lotte finds being around him unwise and things continue declining. Werther finds his answer. He asks Albert to borrow his pistols, telling him he is going on a journey. Lotte, understanding what Werther intends to do, sends them emotionally, and Werther blows his brains out.
Werther often is an icon for unrequited lovers.
I want to talk about the friendship here. Is Werther's action selfish?
I don't think that Albert is a stupid man, and I don't think he didn't know Werther's intentions. Yet to me it seems like Werther fails to see his position objectively and rather than rely on the love of two deep friends who only want what's best, he finds an escape because he childishly can't have Lotte.
But I think Goethe want's us to view Werther's suicide as an act of love. Werther kills himself to save the other two and to save his own sufferings. Simply put, if Goethe did not want Werther to in be a source of pathos, he would have given the book a different title. Rather that Werther is blinded by passion and driven mad by it. Had he anything left of sanity at his end he might have found refuge in friendship, but Werther is not so lucky.
Werther remains a symbol of fanatic love that conquers nothing but oneself.