Suicide Prevention Month begins; Roanoke organization spreads awareness

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 5:13 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - September is National Suicide Prevention Month and mental health experts here at home want to raise awareness.

Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare leaders say suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds and it is estimated that over 48,183 Americans died by suicide in 2021.

Experts say warning signs include thoughts of dying or being a burden, feeling hopeless, and giving away important items.

This month the organization wants to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide by focusing on prevention.

“Just recognizing when someone could be struggling. Letting them know they’re not alone, that you’re there to help and making that connection,” said Sheila Lythgoe, MS.

“And having a conversation, an honest conversation and asking the question. ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ That’s a key part of suicide prevention is asking the question directly.”

There are three trainings this month about how to reduce suicides and help support someone.

To learn more about how to reduce suicides in our community and help support someone struggling with mental health, there are several free virtual trainings offered this month:

Talk Saves Lives: Introduction to Suicide Prevention - 9/1/23 at 11 a.m. or 9/27/23 at 6 p.m.

Youth Mental Health First Aid on 9/28/23 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Click here to sign up.

“Becoming involved in suicide awareness begins with hope. Hope that by becoming aware of the warning signs, one by one the stigma associated with suicide can lessen. And hope that as stigma lessens, the Roanoke Valley community can strive to make all communities their own. That as a united community we can speak hope to those with thoughts of suicide with compassion instead of judgment,” said CEO Mark Chadwick.

They are also asking businesses and agencies around the Roanoke Valley to create and implement a mental health awareness activity. Businesses can register at here and enter for a chance to win exposure for their business through paid ads on SPCRV’s social media pages.