By SUZANNE MOORE, News Editor
---- — AuSABLE CHASM — State Police say the man whose body was found beneath the Ausable Chasm bridge died by suicide.
James R. Rock, 26, lived in Keeseville.
An employee of the tourist attraction Ausable Chasm spotted his body and called police just after 8 a.m. Monday.
“BCI and State Troopers were here so fast,” Ausable Chasm Admissions Manager Deborah Hackett said. “They took care of everything.”
Clinton County Coroner David Donah declared the manner of death suicide, which proved consistent with the State Police investigation, said Troop Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. Scott Heggelke.
“Very tragic,” he said.
The bridge, which crosses Route 9, spans the Ausable River and sandstone gorge that comprise the Ausable Chasm tourist attraction.
It has been the site for a number of suicides in the past.
There is help for those who feel despondent, area mental-health providers say.
“If somebody feels suicidal, they should call (a) suicide hotline number or go to the emergency room,” said licensed clinical social worker Mary Ann Cox, who works for National Alliance on Mental Illness: Champlain Valley (NAMI: CV).
NAMI, located on Healy Avenue in Plattsburgh, offers advocacy, resources and linkage to mental-health services.
“If they don’t know where to go or feel they are not getting the services they need, we can help,” said Cox, who provides free depression screenings for students at NAMI, hosts a support group for those grieving the loss of loved ones to suicide and provides individual grief counseling. Free screening is also available to anyone through Employee Assistance Services in Plattsburgh, she noted.
Cox is greatly concerned over a spike in deaths by suicide in recent months.
“Stigma still prevents people from getting help,” she said.
Among those recent deaths, on May 1, was that of Malone Central School student Jackalyn Marie Boyer; her mother, Paula Sansone, is chairing an Out of the Darkness Community Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention taking place today in Malone. The aim is to take a hard blow at stigma, educate the public about suicide, she said.
“Stigma still prevents people from getting help” for depression and other mental illnesses, she said. “(People) have got to understand that it’s OK to talk it.”
— Contributing Writer Felicia Krieg assisted with this report.