Even with our best intentions, churches are not always the resources they could be. Different attitudes toward suicide swirl about causing confusion. We miss the signs. We believe long-held myths concerning suicide.
Because of this, researchers Biebel and Foster note, "Within two years of a suicide, at least 80 percent of survivors will either leave the church they were attending and join another or stop attending church altogether. The two most common reasons for this are one, disappointment due to unmet expectations and two, criticism or judgmental attitudes and treatment.” (1)
Despite these complications, the church plays a crucial role in suicide prevention for two reasons: Science and my own experience tell me that faith is important in suicide prevention. Studies have found that religiosity (not my term, but we'll go with it) protects against suicide. (2)
In my own life, I recognize how important my faith is to me in difficult times, and I know I would never want to live life without it. Church leaders also minister at the intersection of theology and moral practice. They teach people to choose life. They guide how to build lives worth living. They teach how to manage suffering. They monitor and intervene when suicidal people come to them for help. They guide faith communities in how to support suicide survivors. They partner with others in their communities. The US government recognizes the crucial role of faith-based leaders and communities in its 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action report. Pastoral caregivers have a vital and unique role to play in suicide prevention. (3)
Is your church or group prepared to save lives?
“Despite their best intentions, churches don’t always know how to help those facing mental health struggles,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 15 to 34 and the fourth leading cause of death for those 35 to 44. LifeWay’s study found three-quarters (76 percent) of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community. About a third (32 percent) say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.
As pastors and church leaders, we tend to overestimate our preparedness to assist those in crisis. Pastors are more likely to say their churches take a proactive role in preventing suicide than churchgoers are according to research.
51 percent of pastors vs. 16 percent of churchgoers say their church has a list of mental health professionals who can treat those considering suicide.
46 percent of pastors vs. 12 percent of churchgoers say their church regularly addresses mental illness.
36 percent of pastors vs. 22 percent of churchgoers say their church has a lay counseling ministry.
29 percent of pastors vs. 23 percent of churchgoers say their church has a trained counselor on staff.
18 percent of pastors vs. 12 percent of churchgoers say their church has a crisis response team.
Let's change this.
Biblically-based Suicide Training at Your Location
Choose between 2 or 3-hour classes.
Both time formats cover:
Biblical perspectives on life and death
Biblical perspectives on suffering, hope, responsibilities of the family of God
Social and spiritual support
Current suicide trends and statistics
Suicide risk factors
Suicide protective factors
Recognizing suicidal behaviors and communication and warning signs
Evidence-based QPR® Suicide Intervention Gatekeeper training
Class role-play practice
The 3-hour class provides more in-depth perspectives and allows for more practice opportunities to overcome the natural fear of asking the suicide question.
A class can be held at your location
We ask that you provide the following:
Large enough space to seat expected students and room to spread out for practice role plays
Projection screen or a light-colored blank wall
Projector (we can provide a projector if you do not have access to one)
Water and other refreshments/light snacks if you choose
No Registration Fee
Dr. Leger has graciously agreed to provide this training to churches without requiring booking or speaking fees. All we ask is that you take up a love offering during the training to support this vital ministry to ensure more churches have the opportunity to receive this life-saving training.
Continuing Education Credit and QPR® Certificate Available
Dr. Leger, a pastor, retired law enforcement officer/chaplain, crisis interventionist/trainer, board-certified pastoral counselor, and certified master trainer in suicide awareness and prevention, combines Biblical principles and evidence-based QPR® training to equip churches and church leaders to save lives and offer hope to those who are hurting.
Get in touch today to find out how to schedule this life-saving training at your location. This training typically costs thousands of dollars for business and industry to have their employees trained. As a current pastor and leading suicidologist, Dr. Leger is offering this training to churches on a love-offering basis. Call or email today to learn more.
Fill Out the Form Below for a No-Obligation Consultation
Thanks for your interest in caring for others
Congratulations! You're in. We'll let you know what's coming up and keep you informed about new blog posts.
(1) D. B. Biebel and S. L. Foster, Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone You Love (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), p. 169.
(2) D. B. Larson and S. S. Larson, “Spirituality’s Potential Relevance to Physical and Emotional Health: A Brief Review of Quantitative Research,” Journal of Psychology and Theology 31, no. 1 (1987): 37-51.
(3) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (Washington, DC: HHS, 2012).