MANHATTAN — The mother of a 24-year-old singer who jumped to her death from the George Washington Bridge said her daughter suffered from years of depression and "couldn’t handle the harshness of this world."
Lael Feldman, whose body was found Monday afternoon in the Hudson River along West 218th Street and Indian Road, was empathetic and loved helping people, but struggled through multiple suicide attempts, her mom Marla Mase said.
“Her soul was not coming from this world, and she couldn’t handle the harshness of this world,” said the mother, adding that Feldman, of Clinton Hill, suffered from depression since she was 11 years old and often went out of state for months of treatment.
Feldman was a yogi and a singer who recorded two albums under the name Lael Summer, her mom said. She was working on two new songs before her death, and the family has plans to produce then posthumously.
“My whole life has been saving Lael,” Mase said, adding that her suicide "wasn’t a first shot-attempt.”
Because of Feldman's previous attempts to kill herself, her family urged police to search for her body in the water immediately after authorities told them they found her belongings on the George Washington Bridge.
A Port Authority spokesman said its police officers found Feldman's bag and shoes on the bridge and also had footage showing her walking onto the span.
"I don’t believe she woke up that morning thinking she was going to do that," Mase said. "I think something happened that caused her emotions to go."
Mase said she saw her daughter for the final time last Wednesday morning, before Feldman went to see a yoga client. Feldman's friend called Mase that night, saying she had called the singer but that a police officer answered the phone and told her they found her belongings on the bridge.
"That's all I needed to hear. I was woken up. I heard her belongings, the George Washington Bridge, and I knew she had killed herself," the mother said, noting that she and a friend went to identify the woman's body at the Medical Examiner's office Tuesday. "There was no doubt in my mind."
Mase said she spoke with her daughter the morning before she disappeared and texted her throughout the day.
"Just last week, we were talking about my mother because she's getting older, and [Feldman] said that if something were to happen to me, she just wouldn't be able to go on."
Mase doesn't try to think too much about what she could have done differently.
"I can’t do that to myself," the mother said. "You can’t go down that road as a surviving person. There’s nothing down that road — for me as a surviving person."
In addition to plans to produce Feldman's final songs, the family is also producing a play – entitled "The Pill" — about a funny episode with Feldman and her depression written by several members of the family, including Mase's 20-year-old son, father and mother. The play, which is set to debut in January, was written before Feldman's death and even includes her own narrative, Mase said.
"Everyone has their perspective about signs of depression and there’s a lot of things about depression... but this is different," the mother said. "It’s about life. There’s not always a reason why someone has depression. With Lael, that’s what happened. There were no external reasons."