Editor’s note: This article contains content of a sensitive matter.
Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adrian Finch responded to a call at about 4 a.m. on Monday that no officer wants to get, and yet it is one that’s become all too familiar.
The call brought him to the top of the Natchez Trace Bridge in Franklin, where an 18-year-old male stood on the low concrete wall, his feet across the railing.
Finch cautiously approached the man and asked him how he was doing before asking him to take his hand.
“What the hell am I doing here?” the man asked himself.
As he slowly walked across the road to the shoulder, Finch kept talking to the man.
“Let me tell you something,” he said. “You ain’t been nowhere I ain’t been myself, OK? And let me tell you something. What you’re going through — I can help you with it, OK?”
Sharon Puckett, public information administrator for the Sheriff Department, said that when officers go through their annual training, mental-health issues are addressed. Whenever the department receives a call related to self-harm or attempted suicide, emergency medical services personnel are always immediately contacted to examine the person involved after first responders bring them to safety.
Puckett said the man was on his cellphone and talking with the department’s dispatchers when the officer arrived. He is not a Williamson County resident.
Finch talked the man down from the edge and wrapped him in his arms after he climbed off the wall. Then the man broke down in tears.
With more than 30 lost lives and even more diverted jumps over the past two decades, the bridge is commonly and tragically known as the “Suicide Bridge.” In August, two call boxes were installed for those contemplating a jump.
The boxes were added with the help of the Natchez Trace Bridge Barrier Coalition, co-founded by Trish Merelo, who lost her son to suicide at the bridge.
The organization has consistently advocated for raised barriers along the bridge and expects construction to begin in 2023, although members say they wish the project could begin much sooner.
If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They are available to help 24 hours a day.