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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Suicide Prevention Focus of New ME Bridge Barriers

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Friday, September 1, 2023   

Recently approved legislation provides funding for barriers on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge - a scenic but unfortunate hot spot for suicide attempts. The bridge currently has posted signs and phones, which connect those in distress with a crisis clinician, but mental health advocates say it's not enough.

Greg Marley, senior clinical director of suicide prevention for the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health, said the barriers are needed to help buy time.

"Time for that crisis to pass. Time for them to reconnect to help, to hope," he said. "Time to resolve that issue."

Marley said the barriers save lives. The Memorial Bridge in Augusta was the site of 14 suicides before a fence was erected to prevent people from jumping, and there have been no suicides on the bridge since.

The Maine Department of Transportation is currently building the new barriers on its own as there are no engineering standards for bridge design that consider suicide prevention. That's something Marley said he'd like to see change so it doesn't take legislative action to ensure the bridges are safe for people considering suicide.

"It doesn't mean that the suicides by other means in that region go up," he said, "but it does stop people from focusing on that one site about how they might end their pain."

Marley said anyone who needs to connect with a crisis clinician should dial 988. He recommended that people share their concerns with their primary-care provider, a trusted friend or pastor - anyone, he said, to break the isolation of suicidal thoughts.

Disclosure: NAMI Maine contributes to our fund for reporting on Mental Health, Social Justice, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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