Jessica Fashano Suicide Shocks, But is All Too Common

PHOTO Seen here in a Citi promotional video, 27 year-old Jessica Fashano commited suicide on Saturday by jumping off the roof of a Manhattan building.
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Jessica Fashano, a young woman had spend her professional life raising money to help others, walked into a New York skyscraper last Saturday, calmly took the elevator to the roof and then plunged to her death.

The dark-eyed, long-haired 27-year-old, an investment banking associate at Citi Global Markets, left no note and no clue as to why she ended her life. Friends said she was being treated for depression, but she had been in high spirits in the days leading up to her apparent suicide.

Fashano's end was utterly shocking and, unfortunately, utterly too common.

"Suicide surprises many families," said Dr. Timothy Lineberry, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Psychiatric Hospital and chairman of the board of the American Association of Suicidology. "But usually there are underlying problems that are unrecognized by even family members and friends."

"Some people have a public face, and for many people, the internal struggle and how they feel about themselves with depression may not be as evident to others," he said.

Fashano was a rising star in the banking world who organized fundraisers for the Acumen Fund, which invests in businesses that help the poor in the developing world.

"She was selfless with her time, generous with her heart and with her ability to always find that extra amount of time, love and support as a friend," said Michelle Javian, who graduated with Fashano from Georgetown University in 2005.

Javian was co-founder of Harboring Hearts Housing, one of the many charities Fashano supported.

Surveillance video at the residential tower on the west side of Manhattan showed Fashano walking into the building, which was about 16 blocks from her apartment and overlooked the Hudson River and New Jersey, where she grew up.

A resident returning from walking her dog rode up the elevator with Fashano, who asked the woman how to get to the roof, and said she seemed alert and aware, dressed for the cold in Ugg boots and a winter jacket.

One of the mysteries that still puzzles police is why she chose to kill herself at a building where she did not live.

Her friend Javian and a former co-worker, analyst Ramzi J. Ramsey, did not want to share any more details with ABCNews.com. Police also did not return calls to ABCNews.com.

Lineberry said that when doctors do a "psychological autopsy," after a suicide, interviewing family and friends and looking at medical records as a way of "rebuilding things," they find that psychiatric illnesses, like depression, account for 90 percent of all suicides.

That risk is compounded by substance abuse.

Though people commonly assume suicide rates spike during the holiday season, Lineberry said that is an "urban myth," as well as speculation that family and friends should have seen the suicide coming.

Suicide is a major health problem and the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/212/SuicidalThoughtsHTML.pdf " target="external">National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than 34,000 Americans take their own lives each year and 8.4 million aged 18 and older seriously thought about suicide. The rates were highest among those aged 18 to 25.

Suicide Risk Factors Include Depression

Risk factors can include a family history, previous suicide attempts, a history of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression and physical illness or loss.

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