The following resources can help faith communities promote mental health and wellness, as well as reduce the risk of suicide among their members and in their greater communities. The Faith Communities Task Force encourages you to become familiar with these resources and use them in any way possible.
Understanding and Defining Roles for Faith Leaders and Faith Organizations
The Role of Faith Community Leaders in Preventing Suicide: A web-based resource describing roles for faith communities in reducing risk of suicide among community members. (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
What Can Religious Communities Do? Six ideas for action targeted for Christian faith communities, most of which are also applicable to other faiths, as well.
The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention Webinar: Offers practical information about suicide prevention for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders, and highlights the many ways congregations foster mental health--through "communities of connection," narratives of hope, worship and educational resources, and advocacy in the wider community. The webinar also provides an overview about an exciting initiative entitled Faith.Hope.Life--a campaign designed to equip faith leaders with resources and information about suicide prevention--along with guidance about how to use Faith.Hope.Life to promote mental health and wellness, and prevent suicide within the context of faith communities. The webinar is for faith community leaders (clergy and lay), and suicide prevention practitioners who are interested in working with faith community leaders, to help prevent suicide. Presenters come from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.
Equiping and Training Leaders; Engaging Faith Members
Action Alliance Framework for Successful Messaging: It is important for faith leaders to understand the types of public messaging about suicide that can increase risk among vulnerable individuals. Conversely, leaders should be aware of the types of public messages that promote resiliency, encourage help-seeking, publicize prevention successes, and encourage actions that help prevent suicide. This resource helps people messaging about suicide to develop messages that are strategic, safe, positive, and make use of relevant guidelines and best practices. (National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention)
After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Observances: A brief guide for faith community leaders and other community leaders that provides background information, suggests ways to care for and support survivors, and offers recommendations for planning a memorial observance. (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
Common Warning Signs of Suicide: Free wallet cards highlighting the most common and observable warning signs of suicide. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Indications Someone is Having Trouble Coping: Information that highlights common and observable signs that someone may need help coping. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Connect Suicide Prevention and Intervention Training with a Community-Based Approach and Connect Reduce Suicide Risk and Promote Healing--Suicide Postevention Training: The Prevention and Intervention Training is designed to increase the competence of faith leaders in responding to individuals who are suicidal or at high risk for suicide. It includes best practice procedures specific to faith leaders, interactive case scenarios, and discussion on how to integrate key community services for an effective and comprehensive response. The Postvention Training is designed to support proactive planning to ensure an effective and comprehensive response in the event of a suicide death. Participants also learn steps for reducing the risk of contagion. Each training is six hours and can be tailored for specific audiences. (Connect)
Caring Clergy Project: Resources on Mental Illness for Faith Community Leaders: Suicide prevention, intervention, and response video series for clergy, pastors, ministers, rabbis and other faith community leaders, sponsored by the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness.
National Center for Jewish Healing: Helps communities better meet the spiritual needs of Jews living with illness, loss and other significant life challenges. Uses traditional Jewish resources, combined with psychological insights, mind-body techniques and community to help those seeking wholeness, comfort and connection in challenging times. This website includes examples of spiritual resources, some stemming from the classic corpus of Judaism, others from folkways and still others are currently being developed in Jewish communities world-wide. (Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services)
Stephen Ministries: A one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations, equipping and empowering lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting, including those dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide and grief.
ACPE Psychotherapy Commission: In 2019, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors consolidated with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and now exists as the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission. Its multi-disciplinary, multi-faith, multi-racial community of professionals provide education, connection, and formation through continuing education, networking, and leadership development.
Fierce Goodbye: Provides tailored information for pastors, counselors, and suicide survivors and their friends and family. The site includes brief interviews with theologians, stories from survivors, information on how faith communities can become involved in suicide prevention and supporting survivors, and links to resources. Fierce Goodbye has also produced a DVD, study guide, and book on these issues, which are available through the website.
Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events: A collection of dozens of resources to assist communities in coping with a variety of violent and traumatic events, including mass shootings. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
A list of what to do when responding to a Member who may be at risk for suicide
Promoting Mental Health
Mental Health Sunday: A resource to help your congregation begin or to continue to provide education and support to your members around mental health challenges. This website contains a comprehensive set of tools for worship planning, as well as toolkits for educating your congregation about a variety of mental health challenges. (United Church of Christ Mental Health Network)
Resources for Community Conversations about Mental Health: Community Conversations About Mental Health provides information on how to hold a community dialogue that breaks down misconceptions and builds awareness and support around mental health issues. This resource includes a toolkit containing briefs, guides, and other resources designed to help people promote mental health and access to treatment and recovery services within their communities. There is also a fact sheet tailored for faith communities and talking points to help faith leaders develop messages for their congregations and communities about the importance of mental health. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Pathways to Promise: An interfaith resource center that promotes a caring ministry for people with mental illness and their families. It offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information on mental health issues in general and provides guidance for crisis intervention, including suicide prevention. The website is intended for faith community leaders, interested laypeople, people with mental illness and their families and friends, and mental health professionals interested in working with faith communities.
Hope for Mental Health: Resources available for purchase to guide churches through the process of building a mental health ministry.
Mental Health Ministries: An extensive collection of resources to reduce the stigma of mental illness and promote the inclusion of people with mental illness/brain disorders and their families in the life, leadership, and work of congregations. It includes DVDs, brochures, and guidebooks to help faith communities prevent suicides and provide hope and healing, including support for those who are bereaved by suicide. The collection also features worship resources including bulletin inserts and sermon starters on mental health and mental illness related topics. Their website provides both practical information and liturgical resources of use to diverse Christian congregations. (United Church of Christ Mental Health Network).
New resources from Mental Health Ministries include:
- Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays Brochure
- Let’s Talk! Breaking the Silence around Mental Illness in Our Communities of Faith
- An article by Robin L. Flanigan: Have a Little Faith
Understanding Theological Perspectives
The Role of Faith Communities in Preventing Suicide: A Report of an Interfaith Suicide Prevention Dialogue: A report from the Interfaith Suicide Prevention Dialogue convened by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in 2008. It contains ideas for engaging faith communities in suicide prevention and developing interfaith suicide prevention initiatives, as well as the perspectives on suicide of five major religions practiced in the United States (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) and the common themes among them. (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
Overcoming the Tragic: A Positive Approach to Mental Health Drawing from Biblical Narratives Webinar: Dr. Kalman Kaplan, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, focuses on pastoral/rabbinical approaches to supporting those struggling with depression and suicide. (National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention)