September is National Suicide Prevention Month; organizations work to raise awareness

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:25 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits involves a mental health or substance use condition.

Health research also indicates people with substance use disorders are almost six times as likely to attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to people who don’t have them.

Multiple nonprofits and organizations throughout the region are working to remind people that they are not alone, as September also doubles as National Recovery Month.

National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) began in 1989. It is a national observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices to help increase public awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery.

Multiple organizations in southwest Virginia are also working to help those with recovery, addiction and suicide prevention.

Earlier this year, WDBJ7 visited one of the region’s newest outpatient addiction treatment centers in Martinsville.

Employees say this is a chance to show help is here, lasting recovery is possible, and having the right support can make a big difference.

“With addiction, you really need to have that nonjudgmental air when working with them and creating a safe space where they’re free to express themselves, but also explore the causes of their addiction so they can really get the recovery and achieve long-term stability,” said Nicholas Cawby.

In the future, the treatment center in Martinsville hopes to expand and provide partial hospitalization and sober housing.

September 10 is also World Suicide Prevention Day. The Suicide Prevention Council of Roanoke Valley (SPCRV) and Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare (BRBH) are sharing planned activities and ways people can get involved.

Officials say their efforts focus on suicide prevention and warning signs, and strive to reduce the stigma associated with suicide.

September 10, BRBH and SPCRV will host a free SafeTalk training. This is an alertness workshop that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of experience or training to become a suicide-alert helper.

BRBH and SPCRV will also host a virtual talk ‘Save Lives Presentation’ September 20 and a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training September 27. All sessions are free to community members.

For more information and to register BRBH and SPCRV’s events, visit

In case you or your loved one needs help or additional resources, the new Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 988.

The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line can also connect veterans and service members in crisis, their families, and friends with qualified U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. The number is 1-800-273-8255, press 1.