Why We're here
The Natchez Trace Bridge Barrier Coalition was formed by two survivors of suicide loss at the Natchez Trace Bridge; Trish Merelo lost her son, and Sarah Elmer lost her sister, and also lost a friend. Trish and Sarah are determined to turn their grief into action, preventing further loss of life at Middle Tennessee's "suicide magnet."
As so many bridges around the country are being outfitted with suicide prevention barriers, including the iconic Golden Gate, the time is now for the National Park Service to follow suit with the Natchez Trace. Please join us in making this very important difference in our community, STOP suicides at the Natchez Trace Bridge.
Grief into action...our stories
My sister Danielle, 25, had her life taken by suicide on the Natchez Trace Bridge. My life was altered on July, 29th 2015, the night my sister was gone forever. The Natchez Trace Bridge was the last place my sister was while she was alive. That evening, she saw the same purple and pink sunset just as I did. As sisters, we had a strong connection, and that night I awakened with an unsettled feeling around the time my sister had jumped to her death. The last scene my sister saw was the span of the bridge, 1,572 ft long, just one blinking light at each end, and darkness that was 150 ft tall. The only thing keeping her on the Natchez Trace Bridge was the railing that is 32 inches high, and two signs at either end stating, "There is hope." Sadly, this was not enough. Unfortunately, Danielle was not the only person who had her life taken by suicide on the Natchez Trace Bridge, and she is not the last. Since my sister's death, more individuals continue to lose their lives. One of those people was my friend, who
also recently died by suicide there. The same scene Danielle saw, my friend saw. My sister was an advocate for mental health, having fought her own demons. My sister's fight is over and may she rest in peace, but her love and her life still flows through me. Please, stand with me as we fight for a barrier on the Natchez Trace Bridge.
My 17-year-old son jumped from the low railing of the Natchez Trace Bridge in Franklin, TN in 2016. The bridge is 150 feet high, over a road. The railing is only 32 inches high. The railing is so low, one could be knocked over the side with one quick, fatal, push. My son John is one of at least 32 suicides at the bridge since 2000. Thirteen of those 32 have occurred between just 2015-2018. In 2017 alone, 5 people chose to end their lives at the Natchez Trace Bridge (source: National Park Service). Something must be done.
The time is now, National Park Service. The bridge is a known "suicide magnet." You know this. YOU KNOW THIS. Continuing to look the other way proves negligence. Please, raise the railing, or put in netting or fencing. This can be done in an aesthetically pleasing way. Restricting lethal means is a known deterrent to suicide. The argument that "they'll just find another way" doesn't hold. We have to buy these precious people some time. A moment, a day, may be all they need for the darkness to pass. Please support us in our mission to do the right thing for our community.
I couldn't save my beautiful boy, so I'm going to try with everything I've got, to save yours.