The 55-year-old tenor is under treatment at St. Francis Hospital after having attempted suicide on Tuesday morning (July 10). Celia P. Novo, the family's designated spokesperson, told PlaybillArts that his condition is "extremely grave" and that the hospital's medical ethics board is reviewing his situation.
One source familiar with the tenor's circumstances said that "his medical status is hopeless" and that doctors are attempting to determine "if any organs can be saved for donation." Asked to confirm this report, Novo insisted that this was not the case and reiterated that the hospital's official description of Hadley's condition is "extremely grave."
Details of the incident, and of Hadley's recent difficulties, were revealed on Wednesday (July 11) in a statement by New York State Police senior investigator Robert Rochler.
Police received a call at about 7:15 a.m. on the morning of July 10 from the woman who lived with Hadley reporting a possible suicide attempt. State troopers arrived at the tenor's home in Clinton Corners, New York, to find him unconscious on the floor of his bedroom with a bullet wound to the head and an air rifle nearby; he was immediately taken to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie.
Regarding possible motive for a suicide attempt, the police statement said that the 55-year-old Hadley had been having "difficulties in the past few years with financial problems and was in the process of filing for bankruptcy. He has been very depressed and was under a doctor's care for the depression and being treated with several medications."
Some of Hadley's associates had known he was having a difficult time recently. "I know he's been in really bad trouble. He's been very depressed," composer John Harbison told The New York Times. (Hadley created the title role in Harbison's The Great Gatsby at the Metropolitan Opera in 1996 and repeated it there in 2002.)
But for many others who knew and worked with him, the news that Hadley was distraught enough to consider suicide is something of a shock; anecdotes about him almost invariably mention his warmth and sense of humor. Typical is this comment from fellow tenor Richard Leech: "Jerry's singing would make you cry, and his jokes would make you laugh uncontrollably. His generous personality would embrace the world around him and always make it a better place." San Diego Opera general and artistic director Ian Campbell said, "Jerry was a wonderful man as well as an outstanding artist ... His loyalty to San Diego Opera was shown when he insisted appearing without fee in our Die Fledermaus gala performances ... I considered him a friend, as well as a singer, and a man of great charm and grace."
Artist manager Neil Funkhouser, with whom Hadley had recently been discussing a career move into character tenor roles, told the Times, "He always seemed to be to me one of the most upbeat, positive people that I knew. This comes as a total shock to me."