NEW YORK (JTA) — A Hasidic Jewish woman who hanged herself just months after her sister took her own life struggled with depression for years after being forced to marry her first cousin, the New York Post reported.
The Post attributed the news to a single anonymous “family insider.”
Citing the source, the Post reported that Sara Mayer, 31, had a nervous breakdown the night before her arranged wedding about five years ago, and had previously endured years of physical and mental abuse by relatives. She was found dead Sunday in her parents’ home in the heavily Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.
“Ever since [her marriage], she has been in and out of mental hospitals,” the source told the Post. “She had been coerced by her mother’s side of the family’’ to marry her cousin. “She married the son of the mother’s sister.”
Growing up, some relatives “kept calling her retarded, ugly, etc. We didn’t know this until later,” the source said.
The source added that both Sara Mayer and her sister, Faigy, had been seeking advice for their depression from a family member who was not a licensed therapist.
“In Williamsburg, it was so bad that the rabbis got together and they put a poster up warning the community about her and the lack of her credentials,” the source said. “But despite the rabbis’ warning, people are still seeing her for family therapy.”
Whereas Faigy Mayer had left the Hasidic community and criticized it just before jumping from a Manhattan rooftop bar to her death, Sara Mayer, the older of the two, was said to still be observant, the Post reported.
During Mayer’s funeral at Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Borough Park, Israel Mayers, her father, apologized if he had failed his daughters.
“I’m asking forgiveness from you if I didn’t do enough for you,” he said, addressing Sara Mayer. “I saw you suffering, and I tried my best.”
“We put her in this hospital, we put her in that hospital, until her soul left her,” he said of Mayer, who was released last week from the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island, where she had been an inpatient for two years, according to the Post.