Tennessee’s Bicentennial Mall celebrates the state’s geography and history and honors its musical greats and war veterans. Today, officials are adding a different sort of memorial at the site, one dedicated to Tennesseans who’ve attempted suicide.
Nearly a thousand Tennesseans kill themselves each year. Teenage suicides are on the decline, but the number of middle aged people in the state taking their own lives has increased steadily over the last decade. Twelve counties have seen a big enough spike that officials felt the need for targeted suicide prevention and mental health efforts.
The new memorial doesn’t list names or statistics. It bears text honoring survivors of suicide attempts and the families of everyone who has tried to take their own life. And by design, it is a living thing. The Willow Oak tree will be planted near one of the park’s roundabouts with a sign that bears the words “Living Matters.”