New Scotland woman talked down from Thacher Park suicide attempt

NEW SCOTLAND — The coronavirus crisis has started to take its toll on residents’ mental health, as police were able to talk a 64-year-old New Scotland woman off of a ledge at Thacher Park on Tuesday.

At about 4:23 p.m., the  woman was on the phone with the county’s mobile crisis hotline, which then relayed her location to the sheriff’s office, according to Undersheriff William Rice of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office pinged the woman’s cell phone to make sure she was still at Thacher Park, he said.

The woman was sitting on the stone wall near the overlook when police arrived, Rice said, and, when they approached her, she walked to the edge of the cliff and sat down. The woman also had a knife, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

After close to an hour of police talking with the woman, Rice said, she walked away from the ledge, decided she needed help, and was willing to get help.

She was transported to Albany Medical Center. New York State Police and Park Police also helped.

The woman has a history of mental-health issues, for which she has been seeking help, Rice said, and, with the state shut down, being confined to her home, and not being able to see her grandchildren added to her anxieties. Rice said the woman is married and has a job that she hasn’t lost due to the COVID crisis.

Over the years, the Helderberg escarpment with its sheer cliff faces has been the scene of a number of suicides and suicde attempts.

In January, 25-year-old Zachary Barrantes spent three frigid nights at the base of the escarpment after he’d jumped off a cliff at Thacher Park.

Barrantes dislocated both shoulders and suffered frostbite.

Daniela Filmer, Barrantes’ mother, told The Enterprise through Facebook this week about his recovery: “My son does ... suffer from nerve pain in his feet from the jump. He is still struggling with his mental health … His shoulders are still recovering but he has no long lasting damage from that; it’s just going to take time.”

In March, to help residents who were feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Albany County launched a mental-health support line — at 518-269-6634 — which is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Professionals offer free counseling to callers. Anyone experiencing a psychiatric emergency should still call the Albany County Mobile Crisis Team at 518-549–6500.

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