Since 2012, the Center City Green parking garage near the Spectrum Center has been the setting for eight suicides.
Six have happened since 2015, and the most recent death was in March.
Recently, suicide prevention instructor and mental health advocate Fonda Bryant learned these numbers from a journalist friend. She looked a little deeper and saw that 51 percent of parking structures have had a suicide or suicide attempt.
Bryant, who survived her own suicide attempt in 1995, has dedicated much of her life to changing the conversation around suicide prevention in Charlotte.
She designed signs to be placed in parking decks around the city that say “You’re not alone” and provide the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone and text numbers.
Bryant chose the words for the signs carefully. “When we’re in that moment or dealing with a mental health condition, we feel like we’re alone,” Bryant says. “When we’re in crisis, we’re not thinking.” She crafted the language to make the signs feel personal but also practical, with the hotline’s number front and center.
Bryant says many people in crisis would reach out for help, but simply don’t know who to call and don’t want to involve the police.
The signs went up first in the Center City Green parking deck.
She now has signs in the 720 South Church Street deck, with others going up in four additional decks in the near future.
She’d like the signs to be in every parking deck in the city. She’s reached out to places like the 7th Street Public Market and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport about her mission. The garages cover the cost of the signs.
Although her efforts have gained national attention and applause, including from The Washington Post, she says she’s also been met with a fair amount of resistance. Some believe that talking about suicide encourages people to take their own lives.
“It’s the ignorance of people thinking if we put the signs there, someone’s going to die,” Bryant says. “If you don’t put the signs there, people are going to die.”