‘My daughter attempted violent suicide:' Gov. Lee advocates for statewide mental health initiative

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and University of Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer are expected to speak on a new statewide mental health initiative during a Wednesday press conference set for 11:30 a.m.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and UT Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer expected to announce...
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and UT Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer expected to announce statewide mental health initiative / Source: (Tenn. Governor's Office/ Tennessee Athletics)(Tenn. Governor's Office / Tenn. Athletics)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 11:16 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:21 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and University of Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer announced a new statewide mental health initiative alongside The Jason Foundation during a Wednesday press conference.

“My own teenage daughter attempted violent suicide,” said Governor Lee. “I was a desperate dad reaching out to find resources and answers... I have a personal appreciation for the work of the Jason Foundation.”

Lee also talked about the importance of having conversations about mental health out loud to help Tennesseeans find the resources they need.

“Suicide is preventable, and we know that awareness is key to prevention,” said Clark Flatt, President of The Jason Foundation. “By increasing awareness across Tennessee, we have an enormous opportunity to save lives.

Suicide is the overall leading cause of death for ages 10-40 in Tennessee, according to Flatt.

Experts said the expect suicide rates to rise because of COVID-19-related social isolation and especially economic hardship.

“Our experience from natural disasters, severe economic downturns, and other times of widespread distress is that the mental health impacts really hit home for people starting about five to six months after the event begins. The timing and the message of this campaign are perfect for our neighbors who are hurting,” said Commissioner Williams.

The Jason Foundation offers a suicide helpline for anyone experiencing a crisis. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “Jason” to 741741 or 911.

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