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Sept. 26, 2007

Bridge Authority Receives Suicide Prevention Award

Bear Mountain – The first ever NYS Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Awards were presented to the NYS Bridge Authority and WRNN today.

OMH Commissioner Michael Hogan presided over the ceremony, citing the Authority’s aggressive actions to provide Lifeline phones on its bridges and RNN’s news coverage of the issue.

“After two tragic events in December, we were determined to look at the issue of suicide prevention to see if better options were available.  Lifeline was that better option,” Authority Chairman James P. Sproat said.

Lifeline phones connect a distraught person directly with a mental health counselor and are part of a comprehensive plan implemented by the Authority.  The system has already seen results in at least two suicides prevented this summer.

Sproat thanked Commissioner Hogan for “this important award and for the leadership you and Governor Spitzer have shown in focusing the light of day on this difficult but important subject.” 

Sproat also praised Bridge Authority Executive Director George Sinnott for his leadership on the issue, technology Director Greg Herd for turning concepts into practical applications and Planning and Public Relations Director John Bellucci who led the project for the Authority.  “Without them, this would not have happened,” Sproat said.

Sproat added that the Bridge Authority’s leadership has led other transportation agencies to consider similar programs.  Lifeline phones were recently installed on the Tappan Zee Bridge by the NYS Thruway Authority and other agencies like the MTA, the Peace Bridge in Buffalo and the Maryland Bridge Authority have asked about the program.

“This is a moral and civic responsibility.  The Bridge Authority has developed a roadmap and has demonstrated that it does work,” Sproat said.