MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker’s Loved Ones Call to Destigmatize Suicide After His Death

effrey A. Parker, General Manager/CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
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The MARTA leader was known for overseeing a period of modernization and expansion in Atlanta's public transportation system.

MARTA’s Jeffrey Parker died by suicide Friday night when he was struck by a train, and his family is asking the public to continue the conversation in an attempt to destigmatize suicide, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “[Parker’s] family is sharing the news with the public as a way to counter the stigma attached to suicide,” the outlet reported.

At least six people are directly affected by each suicide, and their loved ones are often treated with "distrust, stereotyping, shunning and avoidance" as a result of the event, according to the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

The 56-year-old CEO and general manager of Atlanta’s public transportation system was remembered for his leadership during a time of expansion and modernization, and through changes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The entire metro Atlanta region owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformational efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he created,” Chairwoman Rita Scott said in a statement over the weekend.

No further details of his death will be release until an investigation is complete, the Dekalb County Medical Examiner’s office said, according to AJC.

Parker joined MARTA, which stands for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit System, in 2018. He oversaw expansion plans in Atlanta and Clayton County and negotiated a new labor agreement that resulted in 3% annual raises for workers, AJC reported.

In addition to preparing Atlanta to host the 2019 Super Bowl, during which hundreds of thousands road the trains, Parker is known for his efforts in guiding the transportation system through the COVID-19 pandemic, including increasing cleaning and safety measures and scaling back bus services as ridership plummeted and staff illness increased, according to AJC.

Parker was known as “one of Atlanta’s most influential leaders,” according MARTA’s website, including being known for his strong record of hiring and promoting women in the industry.

“Jeffrey was known for his civic engagement and support for the advancement of his communities,” Governor Brian Kemp tweeted. “He had an incredible mind for transportation and logistics and a heart for people. He will be greatly missed.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr remembered him as a “brilliant leader and a true advocate for innovation in transportation,” he wrote on Twitter.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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