ROANOKE, Va. – Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds. It’s estimated that more than 45,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020.
This is why groups like the Suicide Prevention Council of Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare spend all month long raising awareness.
During the month of September, which is also Suicide Prevention Month, they have planned activities and ways for the community to get involved.
On the 20th, these groups are hosting “Talk Saves Lives,” a one-hour introduction to suicide prevention.
The goal of this virtual presentation is to focus on warning signs and prevention and also strive to reduce stigma associated with suicide.
“Just making people aware of what resources are available in the community is really important,” said Sheila Lythgoe, the Community Prevention Initiatives Coordinator for Blue Ridge Behavioral Health. “So, if they are talking with someone who could be struggling or they are struggling themselves, they know what can they do and how to have that important conversation and that’s what the trainings we are providing this month. All of those things can help increase their knowledge on how to help someone.”
Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. On that day, Blue Ridge Behavioral Health is hosting a free Safe Talk Training at Safe Side Tactical in Roanoke.
This gives the community the opportunity to learn these skills in case they ever need to help someone who is struggling.
The Suicide Prevention Council also offers Mental Health First Aid Classes. This is an eight-hour course that prepares participants to assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The class is for people 18 years and older, but there is a youth version available as well.
Blue Ridge Behavioral also offers free gun locks and lock boxes for medication if you are worried about someone in your home.
If you are someone who needs help, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare has a 24-hour crisis hotline. That number is 540-981-9351.