Local church leaders take action to help those with mental illnesses after shooting in Texas

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CHESAPEAKE, VA - In light of the Texas church tragedy that happened on Sunday, November 5 and the suspect who allegedly killed 26 people, the Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services and Soul Shop Movement hosted a "Soul Shop" on Thursday, November 9 at Great Bridge United Methodist Church.

"Twice as many people die by suicide as homicide in this country and as many people die by suicide as by car accident, and we just don't hear about it," said Michelle Snyder, director of Soul Shop Movement.

Suicide is just one aspect of mental health. Those thoughts can lead to massive tragedies like what the country saw in Las Vegas and Texas.

Snyder added, "People die by suicide in order to punish, escape and control. Those are the three basic reasons that people kill themselves and often times I think that the murder suicides are to punish."

Members of the clergy hope to save the next life. Churches are the number one place people seek help for mental illness, according to the health services research journal.

Reverend Marty Phillips, executive director of Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services tells News 3, "Our churches, our synagogues, mosques are seen as no judgement zones. They're places where people can come and know that there's someone there who cares and isn't interested in the challenges that they're facing."

The training discussed how to better support and communicate with others before any physical harm is done.

Snyder said, "The ability to ask the question, 'does it ever get so bad that sometimes you think about suicide?' The ability to listen with open ears to what they have to say."

However clergy aren't the only ones trying to make things better.

A member of PIN Ministry in Virginia Beach is trying to raise a million dollars to help a Texas family who lost 10 relatives in the church shooting.

So far half of the money has been donated in just three days.