Editorial Roundup: Tennessee

Johnson City Press. September 10, 2022.

Editorial: Seek treatment for suicidal thoughts

September is recognized nationally as Suicide Prevention Month, and, though the serious public health issue can’t be confined to any specific calendar dates, mental health advocates are taking the opportunity to raise awareness.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020 and more than 1.2 million attempted to do so.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 14 and the third-leading cause of death among people between the ages 15 and 24 in the United States.

Most of us know a friend or family member who has committed or tried to commit suicide, and many of us have struggled or are struggling with our own self-harming behaviours or suicidal thoughts.

Often, people experiencing suicidal thoughts try to ignore or hide them from others and are afraid to discuss them with those close to them or professional therapists because they fear they will be labeled as “crazy.”

Mental and behavioral health professionals have fought against the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health treatment and encourage anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts to seek help.

Anyone locally experiencing a mental health crisis may call the 24/7 Frontier Health Crisis Hotline at (877) 928-9062 or call or text 988 to be connected to a professional. The toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Like our physical health, our mental health needs regular check-ups and treatment from time to time, and it’s important to recognize and quickly address ailments when they arise.

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Kingsport Times News. September 11, 2022.

Editorial: We’re voting yes on all four amendments

Tennessee voters will find four amendments on the Nov. 8 ballot, all presented as yes or no questions. A yes vote would amend the state constitution and adopt the proposed amendment. In each case, we will vote yes.

The first amendment adds language to the state constitution that no one can be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Tennessee approved a “right to work” law in 1947, but this amendment would make it part of the constitution. The effort is being led by Tennessee business leaders with the support of Gov. Bill Lee.

It is, not surprisingly, opposed by organized labor, which says enshrining the state’s 1947 law in the state constitution makes no sense because unions have never had plans to try to gut it. That’s like an animal abuser opposing animal abuse laws because at the moment, he doesn’t plan on abusing animals.

Tennessee is one of 27 states with right-to-work laws, nine of which have made it part of their constitution.

The second amendment plugs a hole in the state’s line of succession. Currently, the constitution provides that if the governor dies or resigns, the speaker of the Senate assumes the duties of governor. But the constitution does not provide a process for the governor to be temporarily relieved of his power and duties.

The amendment would provide a process for the temporary exercise of the powers and duties of the governor by the speaker of the Senate or the House if there is no Senate speaker in office, when the governor is unable to discharge his duties. While a speaker is temporarily discharging the duties of the governor, they would not be required to resign as speaker but would not be able to preside as speaker or vote as a member of the legislature.

Shockingly, according to the state constitution, slavery is legal in Tennessee. Amendment three finally gets rid of that language. Current language regarding slavery was adopted in 1870: “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this State.”

Thus, to this day, for all those who have been convicted of a crime — regardless of race — slavery is still perfectly legal. Amendment three removes that reference.

As to amendment four, the state founders may have been influenced by what happened in the “State of Franklin” when they banned priests or ministers from serving in the legislature.

A group of white settlers attempted to separate from North Carolina and establish a new state in what is now East Tennessee in the mid-1780s. A proposed constitution was drafted by a Presbyterian minister and then successfully shot down by another, because of arguments over aspects of faith.

The escalating dispute was brought before a church judiciary where it threatened to split the regional synod. A decade after the dispute divided the unborn state of Franklin, the state was founded with a constitution barring clergy from the legislature. It’s well past time that ban was removed.

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