January 21, 2014

A tragedy shared: Saranac Lake reaches across the world.

SARANAC LAKE — This is a community that Australian Army Capt. Paul McKay never really knew.

But the search for the soldier by local authorities and an outpouring of public support struck a chord half a world away.

McKay’s body was found near the summit of Scarface Mountain last Thursday; he'd been missing since Dec. 31.

Autopsy reports say he died of hypothermia; the coroner ruled it suicide.

Those trying to find him understood he suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological condition marked by anxiety, often caused by trauma experienced in a war zone. McKay saw active duty in Afghanistan.


Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau expressed sorrow for the man's death in a statement posted on social media on Friday, beginning with, "I am grieving today ..."

And his words released a torrent of response, both here and from afar.

Between Friday and Monday morning, there had been more than 200,000 views of the mayor’s Facebook post and nearly 650 replies, he told the Press-Republican.

“Moreover, it’s the huge outpouring of emotion from literally halfway around the globe,” Rabideau said of McKay’s hometown of Canberra, Australia.

“The biggest lesson of all is that the world is getting smaller and smaller; people are the same the world ‘round.”


In addition, Rabideau is getting scores of private email from people in Australia.

“The emails are from everybody soldiers that served with (McKay), mothers of soldiers, soldiers that are just soldiers. But there seems to be a link we’ve made with thousands of people in Australia, we have a common bond," he said. 

"It was meant to be that tens of thousands of people have come to know PTSD more, and perhaps there will be a more positive silver lining as the years go by."

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