Safeside Tactical, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare partner for “Mental Health First Aid” class

ROANOKE, Va. – Two Roanoke organizations are exploring the intersection of mental health and firearms with a training course during the weekend.

Safeside Tactical, a gun store and range in Roanoke, will host Blue Ridge Behavioral Health’s “Mental Health First Aid” course Saturday morning. The training focuses on suicide prevention, as well as looking for mental health warning signs in others before they pick up a gun.

The class will also stress how to safely lock up firearms so that people dealing with mental illness can not get a hold of them.

Sheila Lythgoe, who runs the training for Blue Ridge Behavioral Health, said Safeside Tactical reached out to her first about collaborating. She hopes the training will inspire more people to say something if they see someone in need of an intervention.

“It’s really just asking those tough questions about, ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’" Lythgoe said. "More times than not, somebody’s going to say, ‘Yes, I’m struggling with that.’ You can make that connection and get them hooked into the services they need.”