LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — September is Suicide Prevention Month and rising statistics are putting mental health professionals on high alert. According to the CDC, nearly 50,000 people in the country took their own lives last year.

A local peer support specialist with Meaningful Minds United, Jennifer Randal Thorpe, says a listening ear can go a long way. Thorpe says suicide prevention should be talked about year-round.

“Suicide is not a shameful topic. People bring a stigma because they don’t understand it,” Thorpe said.

According to the CDC, many factors can contribute to suicide risk, like a history of depression, financial problems, substance use, bullying and more.

Thorpe also says the COVID-19 pandemic spiked mental health related issues. As a suicide attempt survivor, Thorpe says she knows firsthand how it feels to struggle with suicide ideatation and have no one to talk to.

“I’m thankful I was very unsuccessful,” she said. “If I had someone to talk to, I don’t think I ever would have made those attempts. Thank god I never succeeded.”

Thorpe says now being on the other end of suicide ideation. She can now use her experience and understanding to help provide support for others.

“It’s not a burden for me,” she said. “It brings me releif. It helps me be able to bring them hope and heal them. I know that I can help them.”

Mental health professionals advise anyone needing immediate support to call or text the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.