NOTE: This story discusses suicide. If you or a loved one are in need of help, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Natchez Trace bridge is renowned for its beauty, with stunning views over the Williamson County countryside.
But in only 25 short years, 32 lives have been lost on the bridge to suicide. Officials now hope call boxes could provide hope for those in need.
John Miller was only 17 when he took his life in 2016.
“I had heard rumblings that there was a place where people went to take their lives,” explained his mother, Trish Merelo. “But nothing beyond that and certainly nothing to the scope that I later found out.”
Merelo has made it her mission to slow this trend. She’s hoping the call boxes will help.
There are now two different call boxes on the bridge, located on both ends. Provided by the National Park Service, the boxes are solar-powered and wired to make calls to one of two places; the Tennessee Crisis Line and 911.
“Here’s something right there, as they’re about to make this critical decision that shows that there is some light,” said Merelo. “This is a chance for them to get there, rethink this decision.”
The boxes will be operational later this month.
The National Park Service, along with the Federal Highway Administration, has also set aside $1.2-million to explore the possibility of having barriers on the bridge.
This project though is only in phase one and should it proceed, construction wouldn’t be expected till 2023 at the earliest.