September is Suicide Prevention Month

Everyone Has a Role in Suicide Prevention

Charleston, WV-West Virginia’s 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline wants to spread the message that everyone has a role in suicide prevention. In 2021, there were 375 deaths by suicide in West Virginia. Rozanna Bracken, Program Director for WV988, urges everyone in West Virginia to work together to reduce that number. She says being aware of the signs someone is considering suicide and approaching them to have an honest conversation about it is essential. She said, “It’s a myth that if you mention suicide, you may prompt the person to do it. Many people have thoughts of suicide, and being able to talk about it is helpful.” 

Signs that a loved one may need intervention include:

· Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

· Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.

· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

· Talking about being a burden to others.

· Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.

· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

· Sleeping too little or too much.

· Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

· Displaying extreme mood swings.

Bracken further explained that while many people are overwhelmed by the thought of talking to someone about suicide, professional assistance is available. “Our crisis counselors can give you tips on how to help your loved one or can be available to talk directly to them.” A recent survey from Pew indicated only 13% of respondents had heard of 988 and understood its purpose. Though many said they hesitated to use the service due to concerns that they would be forced to enter a hospital or arrested, Bracken says these fears are unfounded. “We can help the person over the phone or chat without further intervention in 98% of cases. You can even contact us anonymously.”  

First Choice Services, a Charleston-based non-profit that operates 15 helplines focusing on addiction, mental health, and social services, answers calls, chats and texts from West Virginians seeking help from the National Suicide and Crisis Line. This past year, the center received 5,000 more calls, texts, and chats from West Virginians seeking crisis services than last year. 

Anyone feeling depressed, suicidal, or needing emotional support can call or text 988 or chat online at For more information on how to support a friend or loved one in crisis, visit