Approximately 34,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States, profoundly affecting entire families and communities. While suicidal behaviors are complex and difficult to understand, the good news is that suicide can often be prevented.
As a faith leader, you have a vital opportunity to address suicide within your faith community.
You can take steps to ensure your organization is actively fostering protective factors—things that you likely already do as part of your mission, as well as some new things—and to ensure it is prepared to respond appropriately to potentially suicidal members, offer appropriate care, help strengthen powerful protective factors in the life of the member, and refer members to additional resources that will help them manage their mental health and stay alive.
You bring critical resources—hope, faith, community—to suicide-reduction efforts, and you are a part of a broader community team that includes mental health professionals, social workers, support groups, and other resources. Your own role, experience, and comfort with your faith community will in part determine what you are able and willing to do in your particular faith community. You are the best judge of what your community needs. As you work through this course, think about ways that the information and resources can be put to work in your community.