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Tennessee Mom Leaps Off Overpass, Killing Herself And 21-Month-Old Son

Police say they initially received reports that the woman tried to crash into a pump at a gas station.

A mother working at a COVID-19 testing site worker jumped off a Tennessee highway overpass while holding her young child, killing them both on Monday.

The Madison County Sheriff's Department announced the launch of an investigation into the deaths of Tonisha Lashay Barker and her 21-month-old son, Jonathan Jones, according to Daily Mail.

Authorities said that details surrounding the incident began to emerge late Monday, as police received emergency calls about a woman who was trying to crash her car into a gas pump at a gas station.

Officers responding to the call said they received a separate lead expressing that the woman exited the vehicle with a small child and walked over to the overpass before disappearing from sight, news station WREG reported.

Shortly after the gas station incident, police received a call from a truck driver who said that his vehicle was hit by "a large object" that fell from the overpass.

Upon inspecting the vehicle near a local highway exit, deputies found the bodies of the 26-year-old and her young child, per WREG.
The Memphis native's grandmother said she had been dealing with a bout of depression over the last couple of weeks. Barker’s work at the COVID-19 testing site had ended last month, according to Daily Mail. 

Police have labeled Barker's death as a suicide but her son's death is under investigation.

In October, President Donald Trump signed The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 to create a three-digit phone number designated to support people experiencing mental distress, as Blavity previously reported.

The current number, listed below, will be phased out by June 2022 in place of a “988” phone line number.

When you're in crisis and you're already emotionally upset, the hardest thing to do is find the number that's a 10-digit number and call it," said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Vibrant Emotional Health Organization, which once operated as the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), manages the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and it estimates that nearly 2.5 million people each year use the hotline for emotional support and confidentiality.

"We could have never predicted the events of 2020 — and the increased demand for our services," CEO and President of VEHO Kimberly Williams said. "Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent racial unrest fueled by the events surrounding George Floyd's death began, our crisis hotline and emotional support programs have seen an incredible uptick inactivity."

Williams acknowledged that shortening the phone line number could potentially save many more lives each year. The three-digit number will make it much easier for Americans everywhere to receive “an immediate connection to care when they're experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis,” she said.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention support platform that offers 24/7, toll-free hotline services to anyone in emotional distress or facing a mental crisis. If you or someone you know needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255.

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