CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) – A group of church leaders held a conference inside Great Bridge Methodist Church to talk about mental illness.

The Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services held the event. The goal was to teach people how to have a conversation with members of a congregation about suicide.

"If you can use the word 'suicide' in a sentence, you can probably help save a life," Marty Phillips said.

Phillips said more than 44,000 people die a year from suicide, double than those who die from homicide.

"We try to educate the faith community that we have people that are struggling with suicidal thoughts in our own pews,” Phillips said.

When many think of that term or word, they think one person, but that's not always the case.

Michelle Snyder with Sole Shop Movement said, "We forget that mass shootings are really almost always suicide, where other people are taken with them."

Snyder compared the mass shootings, like the recent tragedy in Texas. The suspect, Devin Patrick Kelley died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"We have these people who are isolated and super desperate, who then out of pain, take their lives and the ones of others," Snyder said.

Church leaders are learning how to talk to people, how to ask questions and how to lead them in the right direction. Leaders said if you need help don't be afraid to ask or feel like you will be judged.

According to statistics, 50 percent of people are impacted by suicides in some way.

If you are suicidal, you can also call a national hotline at 1-800-273-8255.