ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – The World Health Organization says someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds.

In Roanoke, mental health professionals say the work to prevent suicides doesn’t end with Suicide Prevention Awareness month.

“Suicide is not inevitable,” said Cathy Shenal, regional coordinator for the Access to Care Division at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, and a member of the Suicide Prevention Council of Roanoke Valley.

“Mentioning suicide to someone will not anger a person that’s in crisis, someone that may be contemplating suicide they’re often relieved to have the subject mentioned in a caring way and it opens the door to having a frank conversation,” she said.

It may be a hard conversation, but Licensed Clinical Counselor and Clinical Director at Family Service of Roanoke Valley Sarah Harig says it’s the courage to ask that’s the first step in really helping someone. Then it’s just about listening.

“Making sure you’re supportive, that you’re not being judgmental, that you’re not like oh but you’re life is so great, just that you’re with that person and doing that active listening,” she explained, adding that you have to take the lead from your loved one on how to best support them.

Back in July, a new suicide hotline was released. Now people can call or text 988, and there’s an online chat option for the deaf and hard of hearing at the Lifeline website.

For Veterans, you can visit Veteran Suicide Prevention | Veterans Affairs ( or dial 988 and hit 1.