Rohde suicide 'concern' at marriage counselling sessions

Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck. Image: FACEBOOK
Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck. Image: FACEBOOK
Image: FACEBOOK

A “frustrated” and “angry” Jason Rohde stormed out of the final marriage counselling session with his wife Susan before she was found dead four days later.

Rohde was allegedly upset because she insisted on joining him for a company conference at the Spier Wine Estate in July 2016‚ where she was found dead in her hotel room.

This testimony came from the couple’s marriage counselor‚ Carol Nader‚ in the Cape Town High Court on Monday. She was called to the stand by state advocate Louis van Niekerk.

Rohde is accused of murdering his wife and trying to make her death look like a suicide. The state has argued that Susan was not suicidal while the defence argued to the contrary. But in a dramatic twist‚ Nader’s testimony’s poured cold water on the state’s argument. She believed Susan was suicidal.

Nader — who saw the couple for 13 sessions‚ of 70 minutes each‚ from February 29 until July 20‚ 2016 — said that Susan complained of her husband being disconnected.

When Nader asked Susan if she had thoughts of suicide she replied: “No‚ I would never do that to my children.”

Nader‚ who is qualified to make primary assessments on suicide but not a clinical diagnosis‚ said she used a suicide checklist to asses if Susan showed signs of suffering from a major depressive disorder.

“I highlighted childhood trauma‚ low tolerance for mental and emotional pain‚ feelings of hopelessness‚ isolation‚ outbursts of rage and erratic behaviour‚” said Nader.

Nader said she worked on the couple’s communication skills‚ as they often had verbal fights. She also recommended a conflict resolution exercise to help them deal with Rohde’s ongoing affair with real estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

Toward the end of their sessions together Nader noted an improvement in Susan‚ who had also started seeing a psychologist. But Nader noted with concern her suicidal behaviour.

“I was still concerned about suicide‚” she said.

“I was not convinced she was not suicidal but I did not bring it up because she felt insulted by the [insinuation].”

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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