It wasn’t the first youth suicide to hit the community of Bath, but Jamie Dorr had seen enough.

She knew the young man who took his life in the early summer of 2016. Not well, but she knew his face. He was a regular at the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark, where Dorr serves as president.

Dorr decided at that point she couldn’t live in a community where something like that was shrugged off or forgotten in a week.

“I just felt compelled to do something,” she said. “I didn’t want to accept that feeling of helplessness.”

Days after the suicide she was making calls, trying to start a conversation. In a few short weeks, she had created the Midcoast Community Alliance, an organization committed to mental health awareness and suicide prevention. More than 25 members, from churches to schools to police agencies, have joined.

The alliance has conducted training for parents, gathered volunteers for “You Matter” events at Bath Middle School and planted yellow tulips, a symbol of hope, at Morse High School. More than anything, it has become a resource to bring the community together around a complex issue.

Dorr said the response was heartening and happened organically but others say different. They say it happened because of her.

“It was Jamie’s leadership, her demeanor and caring approach that really made this,” said Patrick Manuel, the superintendent of RSU 1.

“She brings the heart,” added Melissa Fochesato, director of community health promotion at Brunswick’s Mid Coast Hospital. “It’s rare to have the spark come from within the community.”

Dr. Deborah Hagler, a pediatrician in Brunswick, said she has been focusing on mental health and suicide prevention for years.

“To see someone on the ground, embedded in the community, talking about these things – that’s what can have an impact,” Hagler said.

This year, when officials were soliciting nominations for Bath’s annual citizen of the year award, nine people nominated Dorr. That’s unheard of, Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers said.

“I think we have a community spirit here in Bath but sometimes, when you’re addressing a particular issue, someone has to be at the head of the table,” Meyers said. “Jamie has taken that on.”

Dorr, a web designer and mother of two teenage boys, has lived in Bath her whole life. She’s proud of the work she’s done with the Midcoast Community Alliance but deflects praise.

“It’s so easy to say I’m too busy,” she said.

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