National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from FaithNet NAMI
Suicide Awareness, Responses and Prevention Resources for Faith Leaders
By Kathleen Vogtle, NAMI Communications Coordinator
Suicide often has played a contentious role in faith traditions. Faith can be a strong factor in an individual’s recovery. However, when a person feels that they are in their darkest hour and that their faith appears to have deserted them, suicide may seem the only viable option remaining. It is then the responsibility of their faith community to neither condemn nor censure them, but to be understanding and supportive, to help the individual step back from the brink and regain their belief in the future.
NAMI has prepared a list of suicide awareness, responses and prevention resources for faith leaders.
Crisis Phone Numbers
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Veterans Suicide Helpline
World Suicide Prevention Day: Sept. 10
National Suicide Prevention Week: Sept. 8 14
The Role of Faith Communities in Preventing Suicide
ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training
Suicide and Faith A Free Faith Leader Training
Psychiatry and Religion: The Convergence of Mind and Spirit (Issues in Psychiatry) James K. Boehnlein, M.D. (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 2000).
Children of Jonah: personal stories by survivors of suicide attempts Edited by James T. Clemons, Ph. D. Foreword by Judy Collins. (Sterling, VA, Capital Books, 2001).
Suicide: A Christian Response: Crucial Considerations for Choosing Life Timothy J. Demy & Gary P. Stewart, editors. Foreword by Carl. F. H. Henry. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1998).
The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders Timothy Doty, Psy.D & Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., MNM. (Denver, Colo.: Carson J Spencer Foundation, 2009).
Life's worth: the case against assisted suicide Arthur J. Dyck. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2002).
Grace for the afflicted: viewing mental illness through the eyes of faith Matthew S. Stanford. (Colorado Springs: Paternoster 2008).
Suicide: pastoral responses Loren L. Townsend, Daniel G. Bagby, editor. (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 2006).
DVDs and Videos
Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide In this 2004 documentary produced by Mennonite Media, family members reveal their intimate stories and pain to assist other survivors and help the broader community understand the unique, terrible grief of suicide. It explores the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Greek Orthodox responses to suicide and features Judy Collins, who lost her son to suicide, and psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison, a suicide attempt survivor. A study guide and other helps for faith leaders are available at www.fiercegoodbye.com.
Teenage Depression According to some studies, depression afflicts between 6 percent and 12 percent of American high school students. In children and adolescents, depression is easily missed unless parents, teachers, and medical personnel recognize its signs and symptoms. Without this knowledge, the first inkling a parent may have of the severity of a child's illness is the tragedy of a completed suicide. Families and professionals review symptoms and recommend appropriate actions when it is suspected that a child or adolescent is at risk.
Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One an inspiring couple who lost their son to suicide shares the story of their faith community’s support and how their painful experience is helping them reach out to others.