ATLANTA — Yesterday, 9to5, National Association of Working Women members gathered in Albany, Georgia to support community members gathered outside Albany Utilities to protest cutoffs and other policies. During the protest, a resident, who self-identified as being on disability and struggling with mental health issues, came to Albany Utilities, seeking to understand why their lights were turned off and to express their frustration. After an escalating conversation with Albany Utilities representatives, the resident felt hopeless and frustrated and went to a bridge with the intention of self-harming.
Mica Whitfield, Georgia director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, issued the following statement in response:
“We are deeply concerned about the Albany community member who felt such despair and frustration that they contemplated self-harm. We are happy that they are safe and we hope that they are able to get the mental health support they need.
“Unfortunately, this incident demonstrates how high the stakes are for people who are suffering dire financial stress. Nobody should have to face the choice between paying their utilities bill or another basic need, such as paying rent or putting food on the table. We need policy changes to address such injustice — so that no one is pushed to the edge by a light bill.
“We will continue to demand reforms and advocate not only for lower light bills but also for better access to mental healthcare in the community.”