Mental Health Advocate Pushes For Suicide Prevention Legislation

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Mental health advocate Fonda Bryant said suicide is a public health crisis.  “We lose 130 Americans to suicide every day,” Bryant said.  It’s a struggle she faced 28 years ago when she tried to take her own life, but now as a survivor she focuses on helping others. 

“The three simple words on my sign say you are not alone. It lets people know someone understands what you’re going through and the information on the signs can lead to somebody getting help and getting better,” Bryant said. 

In 2019, she starting putting up suicide prevention signs in parking decks like Center City Green, after learning the deck had six suicides in four years. “I just started driving around Charlotte and looking at all of the parking decks and I’m like man we’ve got to get signs in them.” 

 She’s now expanded to 10 parking decks in Charlotte to reach people who may use the tall buildings in an attempt to commit suicide.  “That’s what my goal is – to really make a difference and put a dent into this global health crisis,” Bryant said. 

 In the past two years,  the Center City Green parking garage has had no suicides. Bryant said  she believes a big part of that is due to her suicide prevention signs.  “So that lets me know that those signs are working because words can hurt, but words can help and I truly believe those words on that sign along with the information that you can get help is truly saving lives,” Bryant said. 

Bryant’s signs also caught the attention of a state senator in Boston who introduced a bill to make it mandatory to put suicide prevention signs in parking decks. Bryant hopes a similar bill will be passed in North Carolina. “My goal is if we get it passed in North Carolina, to have it law that every parking deck has to have my suicide prevention signs up.” 

Senator Joyce Waddell is on board with her mission. “It’s called attention to the need for legislation to do something about it,” Waddell said. Sen. Waddell said  she’s confident the bill will move forward. “When the legislators see what’s needed I’m expecting and I’m optimistic and I’m hopeful that they will jump on board.”