Capital Region psychologist dissects Ballston Spa murder-suicide


If you are in crisis, or think someone you know is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also contact the crisis text line by texting TALK to 741741.


BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (WRGB) - The Ballston Spa School District is planning a candlelight vigil for Tuesday night at 6 p.m on the High School football field to remember one of its students, Emma Jones. Police said that Emma, 12, her mother Jennifer, and her father Steven were all found dead in their home on Friday. Authorities said that Steven killed his wife and daughter before taking his own life.

GLOBALFOUNDARIES confirmed Monday that Steven was an employee. A spokesperson released a statement saying, “We have informed our employees and will be making grief counselors available onsite to anyone who may need help processing the news of this tragedy.”

Capital District Beginnings in East Greenbush said Monday that Jennifer provided Occupational Therapy to preschool children. The organization released a statement saying, “All of us at Capital District Beginnings are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our beloved colleague and friend, Jenny Jones, COTA. Jenny has provided Occupational Therapy services to preschool children at Beginnings for the past 5 years. She worked with many teaching teams and a countless number of children during this time. Jenny was a talented therapist and beloved colleague; she will always be remembered for her warm smile, gentle demeanor and genuine concern for the children and colleagues she worked with. Her passing has deeply affected us all, our grief and confusion is great as we try to understand the tragic circumstances surrounding her death.”

Dr. Rudy Nydegger is a Psychologist in Niskayuna who has written a book about suicide. He said that murder-suicide is much less common than suicide and identifying the risk factors is often different.

“In the murder-suicide the risk factors are much more complex and complicated because it depends on the situation,” said Dr. Nydegger.

He said that tragedies like what happened in Ballston Spa, are not easy to predict. And he said we may never know why it happened.

“When we start putting them altogether it starts to make sense, but a lot of times we don't get a chance to put those altogether until after some tragic event like this has happened,” said Dr. Nydegger.

He said that the best thing you can do is be aware of big changes in a person’s behavior and be willing to ask for help in helping someone else.

“Talk to your own doctor, ‘What do I do? Who do I call? What do I say?’ Talk to the police, talk to a crisis hotline or a suicide hotline,” said Dr. Nydegger.

While we don't know what happened in Ballston Spa, Dr. Nydegger said the holidays in general can be painful for some people, especially those who are experiencing loss or loneliness.

“It is a difficult time of year for lots of folks and being aware of that, being sensitive, and not being afraid to ask somebody ‘geez you look down, how's everything going?’” he said.

Dr. Nydegger said that talking about suicide and mental health and resources that are available is important in reducing the stigma. That can make people more willing to ask for help.

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