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Posted on: September 5, 2023

Chesterfield to Focus on Suicide Prevention in September

Sept. 5, 2023

Mental Health Support Services

During September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, Chesterfield County and the Chesterfield Suicide Awareness and Prevention Coalition are working to raise awareness about how to recognize and respond to signs of suicide in older adults. 


Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, the 2022 data released by the Centers for Disease Control in August indicated that people ages 85 and older had the highest rates of suicide (22.4 per 100,000) followed by people ages 75-84 (19.6 per 100,000).  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).  


“The recent CDC data regarding high rates of suicide in older adults is alarming,” said Melissa Ackley, Prevention Services manager for Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services, and a member of the coalition. “It is important that older adults, their children, and those that work with older adults know that depression and thoughts of suicide are not a standard part of aging. It’s also important to be aware of signs of mental health concerns and connect to help if needed.”


Target populations of the campaign include older adults and children/friends of older adults.


“Involvement in meaningful recreational, creative and social activities contributes to positive mental health, especially in older adults,” said Alex van Aartrijk, manager of Chesterfield County’s Office on Aging and Disability Services. “There are a wide range of resources and programs in Chesterfield County to help older adults be connected, active and involved.”


The Coalition hopes that through educational efforts they can help foster a community that is more ready, willing, and able to help those who are struggling, or even contemplating suicide, to seek support and resources. The key message is that mental health is ageless. In addition: 


  • 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.


  • Being involved in meaningful recreational, creative, and social activities contributes to positive mental health.


  • You are not alone if you are struggling with your mental health.  Reach out for help.  Resources are available.


If someone says things like “The world would be better off without me” or “Nobody cares if I live or die” or if they give away special possessions or become isolated from friends, 

it is important to ask the question: “Are you thinking suicide?”


It’s a tough question but by asking, and if the answer is yes, then help can be activated immediately by calling Chesterfield Crisis Intervention at (804) 748-6356 or calling or texting the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.


The Coalition will be offering free Raise Your Voice About Suicide Prevention workshops to help teach common risk factors for suicide in older adults, how to spot the warning signs I others, and how to keep ourselves and our loved ones and those in our community safe. The workshops will be held: 

  • Sunday, Sept. 10 from 2-3:30 p.m. in person at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church (11551 Lucks Lane)
  • Monday, Sept. 25 from 7-8:30 p.m. virtually via Zoom

The events are free but advanced registration is required. To register or to get more information, please visit

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