An Invitation to Ask For Help
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
In mid-May people traveling Route 1 between Belfast and Ellsworth noticed something new on the statuesque Penobscot Narrows Bridge connecting Prospect, Maine to Verona Island and then leading to Bucksport. What is new is the installation of 4 solar-powered phones, 2 at each approach to the bridge.
Each phone has a sign that reads “Picking up the receiver will connect you with a crisis worker; You are not alone.” The Maine Department of Transportation in consultation with the Maine Suicide Prevention Program and NAMI Maine designed and posted the signs and phones on the bridge as a visible and functional reminder to someone in crisis that help is available for those in need.
Suicide is an often-preventable tragedy, if help is available during moments of personal crisis. A suicidal crisis usually lasts a short time, and helping someone through those darkest hours can save a life. The vast majority of people who are interrupted or who get help, continue on to live long and productive lives. Most people in crisis are open to getting help even as they may consider ending their life.
The overall goal of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge phones is to give people the message from that there is hope and there is help available for someone in crisis. In this case, help is as easy as picking up the phone. Each phone will connect the caller with a trained mental health crisis worker, and they can provide a range of services including a face-to-face meeting. Suicide risk is often about feeling isolated and alone in the midst of pain. The availability of a caring, trained individual can make an enormous difference and potentially save a life.
Though this is the first time bridge phones and signs have been used in Maine, there are a number of examples of similar help-seeking supports on bridges across the US and the world.
To get help for anyone you are concerned about, please call the Maine Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112.
Suicide prevention is up to all of us.
Greg Marley, LCSW
Clinical Director, NAMI Maine