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Advocate for the Mentally Ill Dies in Palisades Cliff Plunge

Hackensack woman remembered for her work on behalf of those with mental illness.

Police on Thursday identified the woman found dead at the base of a Palisades cliff as a 65-year-old Hackensack resident who advocated for people with mental illness. 

Joan Orlic was found below Rockefeller Lookout in Englewood Cliffs Wednesday night after authorities discovered her abandoned car in a parking lot off of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, police said. The car had been parked for an "extended period of time" but police did not specify for how long. 

An investigation revealed, "Orlic had gone over the cliff’s edge under her own actions and no one else was involved," according to Lt. Michael Coppola of the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police. 

In an earlier statement, Coppola said the woman had recently lost contact with relatives and may have been depressed. Authorities located Orlic by tracing her cell phone signal. 

Orlic, a native of Croatia, worked with the New Jersey chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and had spoken about her own attempts at suicide. 

"We each have our time and place for everything and my time and place was not then," she said in a 2009 YouTube video. 

Orlic said in the video that she began to learn more about her "diagnosis" and educated herself about medications to discuss with her doctors. She also shared her efforts to speak out against stigmatizing the mentally ill. 

"I am doing well and there's life after mental illness," she says. 

“She was a true supporter of people with mental illness and an eloquent spokeswoman.” Jack Doyle, the Chief Executive Officer of Friendship House where Orlic worked, said in a northjersey.com report

In a posting on the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, Orlic was called an "awesome advocate" and "dedicated volunteer." 

Last summer, three people were killed in falls from the Palisades Interstate Park cliffs. 

A 16-year-old Fort Lee High School student died in early June when he fell while walking near the George Washington Bridge. Later in June, a 45-year-old Spring Lake man plunged to his death from the Rockefeller Lookout. A 26-year-old man, from Brooklyn, fell in August after police said he crossed beyond a marked safety line. 


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Geoffrey Orlic February 08, 2013 at 01:05 AM
I miss you so much teta ivka. from your godson, nephew, and to me my mom (i am blessed with two moms). Teta Ivka you looked so happy and excited to give u ur late birthday card on new years eve. u were at ur next door neighbors apartment.. i took photos of u from the window. im such a joker lol. if anyone can help me i would love to know if there was anyone that was at the observery or who has something nice to say. cell 201-281-5232 email geoffrey.m.orlic@gmail.com THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE.


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