CHESTERFIELD — 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 goal of the campaign is to connect veterans, their friends and family members to appropriate resources locally and nationally.

In 2015, veterans made up 14.3 percent of all deaths by suicide in the United States. In Virginia, 172 veterans died by suicide in 2015. The timeframe for the campaign was chosen to align with the national initiative and also includes several key events around the area, including the Sept. 15 American Foundation of Suicide Prevention “Out of the Darkness” walk and a Sept. 20 “Raise Your Voice” presentation to teach residents how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and the steps to take to help a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

“In recent years, mental health problems, including suicide and thoughts of suicide, have become an increasing concern for veterans, service members, and their families,” said Melissa Ackley, LCSW, Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services prevention services manager. “Unlike many war wounds, these wounds are invisible so they often go unrecognized or untreated.”

The coalition and the Chesterfield County Department of Communications and Media have created public service announcements to help raise awareness and prevent suicide among veterans. These PSAs have been created from veteran and family perspectives and will be used on social media and mainstream media through September.

The coalition also has created a resource booklet for those who want to learn more about warning signs and ways to prevent suicide. The booklet will be available at coalition presentations and events, and it also can be obtained by calling 804-378-0035 or emailing

For event information and links to the videos, visit