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Family finds body of 20-year-old bridge jumper
Devastated at loss of only child
Kyle Barnett -   Oct 11, 2012

Family finds body of 20-year-old bridge jumper

The body of 20-year-old Gretna resident Jake Bodden was recovered by family members four days after he jumped to his death off the Hale Boggs Bridge in Luling.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office officials said Bodden pulled his silver Nissan 300Z to the shoulder of the bridge and jumped off on the morning of Oct. 3.

"We had a witness that was traveling southbound on the Hale Boggs Bridge and it happened that quick. Without hesitation the subject just got out of the car and jumped off the bridge," Sheriff’s Office public information officer Dwayne LaGrange said.

Although the Sheriff’s Office suspected Bodden was the jumper, they did not release his name at first because his body was not immediately found.

After getting a report of the jumper, police searched the Mississippi River and the Coast Guard deployed a search and rescue helicopter in the area.

It was not until four days later on Oct. 7 that family members discovered Bodden’s body on the West Bank near the 12000 block of River Road in Luling.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes said while it is not unusual for the family members of a victim to search for their loved one, it is uncommon for them to actually find the body.

Julia Bodden, who is unrelated to Jake, was a church member with him at the Faith Temple Church of God in Avondale.

She said the reasons for Bodden’s suicide are unclear.

"From what I’ve seen of him growing up in the church he was a nice young man. Nobody knows what happened," Bodden said. "The family is devastated of course because he is their only child."

The Sheriff’s Office said Bodden did not leave a suicide note and no one reported him speaking of suicide before he jumped off the bridge.

Bodden was the second man to jump off the bridge in a five-day span.

Disabled Kenner resident Pedro Paez, 53, committed suicide only five days before by jumping off the bridge. Paez told an officer on the scene that he had a terminal illness and did not have the will to live any longer before he let go of the bridge railing and fell to his death.

Yoes said it is difficult for police officers who respond to these types of incidents to talk the subject out of going through with the suicide.

"If somebody is determined to jump off the bridge I don’t know how we stop them," Yoes said.

James Comeaux, chief operating officer and licensed clinical social worker at St. Charles Community Health Center, said suicide intervention has to come early.

"If we can intervene early enough in that process and help people to see another viable option that makes sense to them then suicide is no longer a viable option," Comeaux said. "You are kind of swimming against the tide when they are sitting on the rail."

Comeaux said the vast number of suicides are preventable with proper treatment.

"It’s usually when someone gets to the point where they don’t see any viable options available to them and then suicide becomes a viable option," Comeaux said.

The St. Charles Community Health Center has psychologists and psychiatrists on staff who provide services dealing directly with suicide prevention. They also offer a discounted payment rate for uninsured patients.

"In most cases we are either able to help them by seeing them frequently, or if they are the type of person who is really determined to do that, we can hospitalize them until such time as they don’t feel that anymore," Comeaux said.

Although the Hale Boggs Bridge has been the site of other suicides, including that of a 23-year-old Metairie man in July 2011, it is uncommon for two incidents to occur so close together.

The last time two suicides occurred at the bridge within such a short period of time was in the fall of 2003.

LaGrange said suicides are more common this time of year.

"Typically what we’ve seen over the years is that we see a spike in suicides around the holidays," he said.

If you or a loved one is thinking of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Resource Center crisis call line at (800) 256-1947.

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