Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition
The Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition brings together organizations in Central Virginia who are working to educate residents about mental illness, risk factors for suicide and support resources within our community.
Founded in 2015, the mission of the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition is to increase the coordination of suicide prevention and awareness activities in Chesterfield through educational programs, community outreach and media efforts. The coalition is a collaborative organization comprised of representatives from community organizations that have a role in promoting suicide prevention and awareness in Chesterfield County. Member organizations provide a representative to monthly meetings and subcommittees and support coalition events. For more information about the coalition, including how to join, please email Melissa Ackley or call 804-706-2010.
September is Suicide Prevention Month
This September, Chesterfield is focusing on older adult suicide awareness for national suicide prevention month. View upcoming events on the county calendar:
Older Adult Suicide Awareness
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people ages 85 and older had the highest rates of suicide in 2022, followed by people ages 75-84. In Virginia in 2021, people ages 75-84 had the highest rates of suicide (21.6 per 100,000), exceeding the national average (18.4 per 100,000).
Depression and suicide are not a standard part of aging. It is important to be aware of signs of mental health concerns and connect to help if needed. Signs include:
- Withdrawing from friends, family or others
- Sleeping all the time or unable to sleep
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Feeling hopeless or trapped
- Rage, uncontrolled anger
- Talking of wanting to hurt or kill themselves
- Seeking ways to kill themselves
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when this is not usual for the person
You are not alone if you are struggling with your mental health. Reach out for help; resources are available. Studies show that being involved in meaningful recreational, creative and social activities contributes to positive mental health.
- Aging and Disability Resources
- Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield
- Parks and Recreation Active Lifestyles Programs
- Resource Directory for Older Adults (English) (PDF)
- Resource Directory for Older Adults (Spanish) (PDF)
- Senior Connections Friendship Cafés
- Shepherd's Center of Chesterfield
If you or someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health emergency, find help now by calling or texting 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Press 1 if you are a veteran.
Talk Saves Lives for Older Adults Workshops
Participants in our free Talk Saves Lives for Older Adults workshops will learn the common risk factors for suicide in older adults, how to spot the warning signs in others, and how to keep ourselves, our loved ones and those in our community safe. Upcoming workshops:
Learn more about the variety of local resources to help people struggling with loneliness, isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide in the Senior and Suicide brochure (PDF).
Mental Health is Ageless Videos
View how older adults stay involved in Chesterfield County, as meaningful recreational, creative and social activities contribute to positive mental health.
View how this Friendship Cafe in Chesterfield County, Virginia, is helping senior citizens fight loneliness and depression.
Watch Don Landry's story about keeping a positive attitude through tough times.
Teen Suicide Awareness
Acknowledge, Care and Tell (ACT) to Prevent Suicide
Did you know that one person dies by suicide every 12 minutes in America?
In Virginia, suicide is the:
- 11th leading cause of death
- Second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24
Chesterfield County and the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition are raising awareness about the risk of suicide, focusing on adolescents and young adults.
During October and November 2017, the county and the coalition raised awareness about the risk of suicide in adolescents and young adults through a multifaceted, coordinated community-wide campaign. The goal of the campaign, “Ask the Question. Act to Prevent Suicide,” was to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions and encourage people of all ages to reach out for help – for themselves and for loved ones. Often people, and particularly young people, are uncomfortable reaching out for help. And, those concerned about them, their friends and family, also are unsure of what to do.
Suicide prevention is a focus area for Chesterfield County government and schools, and many non-profits and other community organizations. This campaign provided a coordinated approach to increasing community awareness and cooperation within the county in addressing a shared concern. The 2017 campaign was the recipient of a National Association of Counties award. NACo awards recognize the ways local governments provide better, more innovative services to their residents, and strengthen communities across the country.
The coalition, through educational efforts, aims to help those who are contemplating suicide connect with people who can recognize warning signs and get them help.
If someone says:
- "The world would be better off without me.”
- “Nobody cares if I live or die.”
- Give away special possessions
- Become isolated from friends
Ask the question:
- “Are you thinking about suicide?”
Suicide is preventable, but you need to ACT.
If you have questions or would like more information, contact the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition at 804-378-0035.
Get help now:
The coalition and the Department of Communications and Media created public service announcements:
- People (particularly young people) are uncomfortable reaching out for help
- People concerned about friends and family don’t know what to do
- Reduce the mental health stigma
- Encourage people to reach out for help for themselves and others
Chesterfield County Public Schools
Chesterfield County Public Schools is teaching a national suicide-prevention curriculum to students in grades seven and 10 called "SOS – Signs of Suicide Prevention Program."
- Provides students tools to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-injury in themselves and their peers
- Teaches students how to take action
- Uses a simple and easy-to-remember acronym, ACT
ACT® (Acknowledge, Care and Tell)
- Acknowledge - Listen to a friend, don't ignore threats.
- Care - Let the friend know you care.
- Tell - Tell a trusted adult so they can help.
Veteran Suicide Awareness
ACT to Prevent Suicide
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 20 veterans a day die by suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in veterans nationwide. In Virginia alone, 172 veterans died by suicide in 2015, accounting for nearly 17 percent of all suicides in Virginia that year.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Chesterfield County and the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition are raising awareness about the risk of suicide, focusing on veterans and their loved ones.
The coalition, through educational efforts, aims to connect veterans who are contemplating suicide with people who can recognize warning signs and get them help.
If a veteran says:
- “I just want to go to sleep and not wake up.”
- “I feel like a burden to my friends and family.”
- Lose interest in hobbies, work or things they used to care about
- Give away prized possessions
Ask the question: “Are you thinking suicide?”
Suicide is preventable, but you need to Ask, Act and Make the Connection.
Get help now:
- Veteran Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - 988
- Chesterfield Crisis Intervention - 804-748-6356
- Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - 804-675-5000
The coalition and the Department of Communications and Media created public service announcements:
Other Veteran Suicide Resources
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Make the Connection
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Virginia Department of Veterans Services
- #BeThere Campaign
- Be Well Virginia - Chesterfield
- 15 Things Veterans Want You to Know
- Chesterfield County Suicide Resources
- Family Advocacy Creating Education and Services (FACES)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Central Virginia
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- According to Make the Connection, a Veteran resource organization, there are several warning signs to look for if you are worried about a veteran friend or loved one.
- The following warning signs require immediate attention:
- Making a plan for how or when to commit suicide
- Frequently talking, writing, or drawing about death or about items that can cause physical harm
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities without thinking about the consequences
- Behaving violently, such as punching holes in walls, fighting, or engaging in acts of self-harm
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
- Acting as though they have a “death wish”; tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
- Giving away prized possessions
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
For more warning signs and resources, visit Make The Connection.
Campaign Print Materials
Lock and Talk
Lock and Talk is part of a statewide comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. It is intended to:
- Prevent suicides by limiting access to firearms, medications and other potentially dangerous items during a mental health crisis.
- Educate the community about how to recognize and respond to warning signs of suicide.
Means safety is the most effective method of preventing suicides from occurring. It is about limiting access to lethal means for a person during a time of crisis.
Talking about the problem of suicide can save lives, reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking behaviors.
Talking also helps the healing process for survivors.
If Someone is in Crisis
1. Ask the question.
"Are you thinking suicide?"
2. Show you care by:
- Saying "I care about you and want to help."
- Connecting them to safety resources.
Teaching people in our community how to have these life promoting conversations is vital to our mission.
We promote safe and responsible care of guns, medications, and other means that can harm.
Reduce easy access by locking or removing potentially dangerous items including the following:
- Firearms or other weapons – Lock them securely using a gun safe or trigger or cable lock.
- Lock and monitor all medications due to potential for abuse and overdose.
- Alcohol can increase the risk for a person with thoughts of suicide to act on them. Alcohol impairs judgement and can increase the lethality of a medication overdose.
- Reduce access to other household items or locations that may pose a threat.
For more information, visit Lock and Talk.
The coalition has created a resource booklet (PDF) for those who want to learn more about ways to prevent suicide and warning signs.
Raise Your Voice about Suicide Prevention was produced by the coalition to teach residents how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and the steps to take to help the person in crisis.
Support Groups for Survivors
- National Alliance on Mental Illness of Central Virginia Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group
- Full Circle Suicide Loss Group
- AFSP Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group
Resilient Chesterfield is the theme for the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition’s 2021 Suicide Prevention Month campaign. Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity or challenges, essential to positive mental and physical health, and a skill that must be modeled, taught and practiced.
There are many great books for children, tweens, teens and adults about resilience. Pick one up at your local branch of the Chesterfield County Public Library or favorite bookseller; view our Resilience Book List (PDF).
Self care is important to building and maintaining resilience. Get ideas from this Self Care Strategies for Resilience (PDF) list.
Stories of Resilience
As part of this campaign, people who live, work, play and do business in Chesterfield shared their personal stories of resilience.