Body recovered from gorge, questions remain

The Taos County Sheriff's Office recovered the body of an Oregon man in his 60s from under the Río Grande Gorge Bridge on Sunday (Sept. 6). The man is believed to have jumped to his death Saturday evening (Sept. 5).

Updated Sept. 17 at 2 p.m.

Taos County Sheriff's deputies recovered the body of an Oregon man from below the Río Grande Gorge Bridge on Sunday (Sept. 6), Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe has confirmed.

Hogrefe identified the man on Monday (Sept. 17) as 60-year-old Robert Diaz of Bedford, Oregon.

The man left a suicide note before apparently jumping to his death around 8 p.m. Saturday evening (Sept. 5), making him the third person to have committed suicide at the 600-foot-high steel arch bridge in 2020. In January, deputies recovered the body of Donald Ayon of Alamosa, Colorado. Three months later, they recovered the body of Morgan Sanders, a local massage therapist and landscaper.

According to New Mexico's Indicator Based Information System, Taos County maintains one of the highest suicide rates in the state, at 36 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to a rate of 21.9 deaths per 100,000 statewide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people from age 5-35 years old. New Mexico's suicide rate has been roughly twice the national rate since 1995.

While the Gorge Bridge has long been a popular suicide destination, and one that costs the county thousands of dollars each year to recover remains, it accounts for only a small percentage of suicides overall. A Department of Health report from 2017 showed that a firearm is used in 53 percent of suicides statewide. Other leading causes include suffocation, at 29 percent, followed by poisoning at 13 percent. Five percent were listed as "other."

Help is available. If you or someone you know are needs help, call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line, any time of the day or night, 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474). The National Suicide Prevention Line can be reached 24 hours per day at (800) 273-8255. 

You can also text the Crisis Test Line: Text "Hello" to 741741

Law enforcement and the hospital can be reached by calling 911.

You can help prevent suicide in Taos. To find out more and volunteer, contact Help Outreach Taos. Find out more at helpoutreachtaos.org or email info@helpoutreachtaos.com.

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(2) comments

guest1292

The suicide rate in Taos County exceeds the "death rate" due to COVID. But Muh Mask.....

JGL1951

Thank you, TCSO, for all the jobs you do. That has to be one of the most difficult.

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