Suicide awareness forum set for Thursday to feature county sheriff, woman with tragic personal tie to issue

Suicide awareness forum set for Thursday to feature county sheriff, woman with tragic personal tie to issue


After publishing an investigative series on suicides from the Natchez Trace Bridge in January, Home Page Media Group will gather experts to discuss issues of mental health and suicide on Thursday evening.

Trish Merelo, now a Spring Hill resident, was living in Brentwood when her 17-year-old son John took his life from the bridge in January of 2016. Merelo said she wants to give back to the community by discussing ways to be proactive about mental illness and prevent suicides.

“It’s time to do something in his honor and to do some good,” she said.

Dr. James G. Wellborn is a clinical child psychologist based in Brentwood. Wellborn specializes in individual, family, and group psychotherapy with children and adolescents addressing family and peer conflict, oppositional or risk taking behavior, attention disorders, parenting/discipline problems, academic motivation and school failure, alcohol and other drug issues, depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders. He is the author of “Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting.”

Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long has worked in law enforcement for over 40 years, and was elected as sheriff in 2008. Long has discussed his frustration with suicides in the county, especially from the bridge, expressing concern about the issue at meetings with National Park Service representatives.

Chief Ranger Sarah Davis works for the National Park Service at the Natchez Trace Parkway. She is a has been with the Park Service for more than 20 years.

Joanne Perley is the Middle Tennessee regional coordinator for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. Perley’s father’s death by suicide in 2011 was the impetus for her involvement in the field of suicide prevention. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she obtained a Master’s in Public Health with a primary focus on the public health approach to suicide prevention.

The panel will be moderated by Managing Editor Mark Cook and Franklin Home Page Associate Editor and journalist Brooke Wanser.

The forum will take begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15 inside the auditorium at the Williamson County Administrative Complex, located at 1320 West Main Street in Franklin. The event is free, and members of the public are encouraged to attend and ask questions.

Read the stories here:

Introduction: VIDEO: Natchez Trace Bridge is a place of beauty, tragedy

Part 1: Bridge renowned for beauty in its setting and design also known for suicides

Part 2: Suicides from the Natchez Trace Bridge: One woman’s story

Part 3: Suicides from the Natchez Trace Bridge: Law enforcement frustrations

Part 4: Suicides from the Natchez Trace Bridge: Finding solutions, making changes

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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