The body of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found floating in the Hudson River the day after she had been reported missing. There were no obvious signs of trauma to her body, and police investigators noted her wallet and phone had been left at her home. She was considered a judge who strived for fairness and often took the people’s side as opposed to corporations.


Her sudden death stunned the legal community, and left many wondering what could have happened to her. The answer is proving to be equally shocking to those who knew her. The judge’s death is now being considered a suicide. Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam is known as a “trailblazer.” She made history by becoming the first black woman to be appointed to New York’s court of appeals, and the first female Muslim judge to be appointed.



Her death has left the legal community reeling and people have come forth with praises her for her integrity in the courtroom. “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her,” stated Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo appointed her to take a seat in the highest court in New York.



He demonstrated the belief he had in her ability to do her job well and called her a “trailblazing jurist,” and a “force for good.” Yet, with so many praising her brilliant mind, it makes one wonder if the pressure she was under was just too much. The judge had expressed her gratitude for having come from very little to sitting on the bench in New York’s highest court. She knew it was a journey to be proud of. Yet, if she was, in fact, suicidal, something was still missing.


We may never know exactly what caused the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam. However, a close friend of hers noted she was stressed. Dr. Marilyn Mobley stated, “What she shared with me is she had been under a lot of stress recently and that she was having trouble sleeping. The truth is she was accomplished, resilient and strong, and she had a breaking point like everyone else. I fear it got there.”


Falling under the weight of constant pressure to succeed is called chronic stress, and it is considered dangerous. This is because it becomes something the person carries around with them continually. They see no way out from under the pressure, it stays with them. It can lead to physical ailments including heart attack, stroke, or cancer. It can even lead to a mental breakdown including suicidal thoughts.


The case is still under investigation but it is hoped that the judge’s legacy of faithful dedicated service will be how she is remembered always.


What do you think caused the Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s death? Let’s talk about it here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.