National Suicide Prevention Month: Life-Saving Resources Available

'It is more important than ever to safeguard mental health'

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. (Courtesy image)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – September is National Suicide Prevention Month. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are an average of 132 suicides a day. In 2018, 1.4 million people attempted suicide and more than 48,000 died by suicide. It is the tenth leading cause of death in this country.

Alexandria’s Department of Human and Community Services (DHCS) is aware of how residents are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.A recent news release states “that it is more important than ever to safeguard mental health.”

In an effort to educate residents on the importance of good mental health, DCHS has shared valuable information. It is intended to help people learn about suicide, address their own feelings, and allow the sharing of resources with friends and loved ones.

Getting Help

One of the most important factors in suicide prevention is talking, both about feelings and stressors. DCHS has compiled a list of phone numbers that can connect residents with professional assistance right away. CrisisLink can be reached at 703-527-4077 or by texting “CONNECT” to 85511.To view the rest of the list, click HERE.

Helping Someone in Crisis

What if someone comes to you in crisis? DCHS indicates you can ask the person if he or she is thinking of suicide. Doing so DOES NOT put the idea of suicide in someone’s mind or make an attempt more likely. Rather, it allows talking to begin. You can also act by doing the following:

  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
  • Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • If possible, do not leave the person alone

Firearm Locks and Medicine Lock Boxes

AFSP research shows firearms account for half all suicide deaths by suicide. Additionally, nineteen percent of people use medication or poison in completed suicides.

The Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN) facilitates the Lock & Talk program, which offers free lock boxes for,medicine and firearms. To learn more about program, click HERE.

SPAN Virtual Event With Mental Health Professionals

In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month, SPAN will host a virtual event on Tuesday, September 29 at 7 p.m. The event, “Strengthening Resiliency and Preventing Suicide During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Conversation With Experts,”

Speakers will include:

  • Dr. Stacey Hardy-Chandler, PhD, JD, LCSW, who is the center director for DCHS Center for Children and Families. She is also co-chair of Resilience Alexandria: Informing, Supporting and Elevating. Resilience Alexandria is  the city’s trauma informed community network.
  • Dr. Ramfis Marquez, PhD, LPC, who is the behavioral health director of the GPW Health Center in Prince William County.

The Honorable Jane Woods, Chair of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation will serve as moderator.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required. To register, click HERE.

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