By LUCY ORMONDE
On the 13th of March, 44-year-old New York lawyer Cynthia Wachenheim sat down and wrote a 13-page note to her friends and family.
In the handwritten letter, written on lined notebook paper, the new mother wrote about a fear; she was convinced her 10-month-old son has autism or cerebral palsy – despite assurances from doctors that he did not. She blamed herself for two falls her son has sustained while in her care and which, in her opinion, had led to a change in his personality.
“I love you. I’m making you suffer. You’re going to think I’m evil,” she wrote.
A little while after Wachenheim wrote the letter, she strapped her baby boy Keston to her chest and jumped from the eighth floor of the New York apartment she shared with her husband, Hal.
Wachenheim died from injuries sustained from the fall.
But her baby Keston survived with just a bruise on his cheek.
This from the New York Times:
According to a law enforcement official who has seen the note, she wrote that her infant son, Keston Bacharach, had previously taken a few tumbles, including “two shameful incidents,” a fall from a Gymini play set onto the wood floor when she walked out of the room for five minutes, and off a bed.
She blamed herself, and was convinced that those falls had led to a series of concussions and seizures that aggravated or contributed to maladies that would harm him for the rest of his life.
Her friends, family members and pediatrician did not believe her, she wrote. But she noticed changes in the baby — changes that only a mother who spends all day with her child would notice. For instance, she wrote, her son had grown sleepier and cried more frequently.
Wachenheim’s friends, family and colleagues were reportedly shocked by the attorney’s death. According to the New York Times, she was a “highly educated, socially conscious woman who had been active in a women’s group in her synagogue”. She was on maternity leave from her $120,000-a-year job as an associate court attorney.
So what would lead a woman like Wachenheim to jump from the balcony?
According to media reports, Wachenheim believed people would assume she was suffering from post partum psychosis (or puerperal psychosis) which is a rare mental illness experienced by around one in 1000 women after childbirth.