ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – September is nationally recognized as Suicide Prevention Month. Blueridge Behavioral Healthcare (BRBH) and the Suicide Prevention Council of the Roanoke Valley (SPCRV) are teaming up to host a calendar of events for the entire month to help spread awareness about suicide.
“It’s something that people don’t like to talk about, and we need to be talking about it. It’s very important to talk about the problems that we’re facing and I think if someone is struggling with suicide, they would be more willing to ask for help if they feel more comfortable,” says Sheila Lythgoe, Prevention and Wellness specialist at Blueridge Behavioral Healthcare.
Mental health conditions, like suicidal behaviors and anxiety disorders, occur across all age, economic, racial, social, and ethnic boundaries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages and every day approximately 123 Americans die by suicide.
While suicide rates in the country have increased significantly over the past two decades, health professionals often emphasize that it’s preventable with access to proper resources.
Throughout the year, BRBH staff and SPCRV members host training programs like “safeTalk Suicide Alertness” and “Adult & Youth Mental Health First Aid” that focus on suicide prevention, discuss warning signs, and strive to reduce the stigma associated with suicide.
High rates of suicide is also an ongoing issue among U.S. military Veterans. From 2003 to 2016, over 3,000 Veterans died by suicide in Virginia, which is nearly 30% of the suicides statewide in that time frame. In January 2019, Governor Ralph Northam announced the state’s participation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and White House initiative to launch a suicide-prevention task force to curb Veteran suicides.
Lythgoe says that with the events, the two organizations are hoping to encourage people who are struggling to reach out and ask for help while also educating family members and friends on how to be there in times of need.
“We want people to be able to reach out and get the help that they need and not be afraid to talk about what they’re going through,” says Lythgoe.