Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight - September 2016

National Suicide Prevention Week – September 5-11


World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10


September is National Recovery Month


The September e-Spotlight features resources on suicide and recovery.  Mental Health Ministries has a section with resources on spirituality/faith and suicide in the Resource list on our website.

Many of the resources lifted up in this e-Spotlight are included on our website. 

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week – September 5-11

National Suicide Prevention WeekNational Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) is a week-long campaign to inform and engage health professions and the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide.  The campaign strives to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic as it raises awareness.  As part of the campaign, health organizations conduct depression screenings, including self-administered and on-line tests. 

NSPW awareness events are held throughout the week corresponding to World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th.  Visit the website.

World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10

World Suicide Prevention DaySuicide Prevention Day, September 10th, is an opportunity for all sectors of the community to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviors. 

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life. And this is happening in spite of the fact that suicide is preventable. 'Connect, communicate, care' is the theme of the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day. These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention.

A downloadable flyer with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities on What You Can Do To Support World Suicide Prevention Day is available by clicking the link.

Mental Health Ministries DVD – Stories of Healing and Hope: PTSD, Trauma and Suicide

Stories of Healing and Hope: PTSD, Trauma and SuicideThe Mental Health Ministries DVD, Stories of Healing and Hope: PTSD, Trauma and Suicide, includes three shows: Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma; PTSD: Healing and Hope and Suicide and Healing After the Death of a Loved One.  The show, Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One, is available on YouTube as well as for purchase.  It features an inspirational couple who lost their son to suicide.  They share the story of how their faith community supported them and how they have used their painful experience to reach out to others.  Click here to see a flyer with details on this resource and information on how to order.

Mental Health Ministries Brochure – Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote Healing

Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote HealingMore than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.  It is this country's 10th leading cause of death.  Among youth aged 15 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.  Our faith communities can be a place to talk openly about suicide, to provide education on recognizing the signs and symptoms and a place to offer care and support for persons touched by suicide.

The brochure, How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Healing, includes suicide facts and figures, risk factors and warning signs, what you can do as an individual and faith communities can promote healing.  It is available as a free download on our website.  It is also available in Spanish

Mental Health Ministries Video – Teenage Depression and Suicide

According to some studies, depression afflicts between 6% and 12% of American high school students. Depression in children and adolescents is easily missed unless parents, teachers, and medical personnel recognize its signs and symptoms. Without the ability to recognize these symptoms, 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 to take when it is suspected that a child or adolescent is at risk. 

Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can RespondThe full show is available on the Mental Health Ministries DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond or on YouTube at  A short clip excerpted from the complete show can be viewed at

Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry

The Mission of the Suicide Prevention Ministry is to reduce the number of people who die by suicide through awareness, education and advocacy actions that reduce the stigma of suicide.  The website lists a number of helpful resources.

The Role of Clergy in Preventing Suicide - The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention identified the clergy as "key gatekeepers" – people who regularly come into contact with individuals or families in suicidal distress. This guide offers details about caring for such individuals and walking the fine line between spiritual support and mental health counseling.

Telling Secrets - Telling Secrets is a 6-series DVD series on Mental Illness, Depression, and Substance Abuse ready to use in congregations. View the introduction on YouTube.

Video – What Faith Communities Can Do to Help Prevent Suicide

The Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry and Sherry Bryant have produced an informative video that can be a good discussion starter on what faith communities can do to prevent suicide. Click here to view the video.

Documentary – Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide

Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of SuicideIn Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide, five loving and courageous families take you to the innermost depths of their heartbreak and pain to bring hope and healing to others dealing with the numbing aftereffects of suicide. Additional families, individuals, mental health experts, Bible scholars and theologians add their experiences and insights in dealing with the issue of suicide. The documentary is a groundbreaking look at the role of faith and suicide: where is my loved one now? Can they be forgiven? How I can still have faith and go on. Hosted by Judy Collins, the program also features Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University.
The film can be purchased from Mennonite Media at and a trailer is available on YouTube at

The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders

The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith LeadersThe purpose of this guidebook is to prepare leaders of faith communities to prevent, intervene and respond to the tragedy of suicide. The concept for this guidebook grew out of an increasing understanding that suicide affects a significant number of people in all walks of life and that people often turn to their faith communities in times of crisis. Knowing how to respond in the moment of a suicidal crisis can be an anxiety-provoking experience. We hope to provide a guide to help alleviate this anxiety by providing knowledge, preparation and support within the context of a community.  The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders is a product of a publication of the Carson J Spencer Foundation with support from Regis University and Jefferson Unitarian Church.  The authors give permission for appendices at the end of the book to be copied and used freely by the readers in their faith community settings.

This PDF file is available for download on the MHM website, or by clicking here.

Book - After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Services

After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial ServicesThis brief guide was created by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to aid faith community leaders and other community leaders. It provides background information, suggests ways to care for and support survivors, and offers recommendations for planning a memorial observance.  This PDF file is available for download on the MHM website, or by clicking here.

Book - Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression

Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen DepressionDepression and related illnesses threaten to wreck the lives of many teens and their families. Suicide driven by these illnesses is one of the top killers of young people. How do teens become depressed? What does depression feel like? How can we identify it? What helps depressed teens? What hurts them? How do families cope with teen depression?

In A Relentless Hope, Dr. Gary Nelson uses his experience as a pastor and pastoral counselor to guide the reader through an exploration of these and many other questions about depression in teens. He's worked with many teens over the years offering help to those confronted by this potentially devastating illness. The author also uses the story of his own son's journey through depression to weave together insights into the spiritual, emotional, cognitive, biological, and relational dimensions of teen depression. The book is written for those without formal clinical training, so it appeals to teens, parents, teachers, pastors, and any who walk with the afflicted through this valley of the shadow of death. Through careful analysis, candid self-revelation, practical advice, and even humor, this pastor, counselor, and father, reminds us God's light of healing can shine through the darkness of depression and offer hope for struggling teens and their families.   Visit the website to purchase or learn more.

Gary also has an educational video to use with teenagers, “Teen Depression & Suicide: Teens Surviving the Storm”, about depression and suicide.

Book - A Second Day: A Hopeful Journey Out of Suicidal Thinking

A Second Day: A Hopeful Journey Out of Suicidal ThinkingIn the aftermath of three suicides in his community over a relatively short period, Fe Anam Avis co-founded the Community Response Team and discovered his life's purpose in the area of suicide prevention. In A SECOND DAY: A HOPEFUL JOURNEY OUT OF SUICIDAL THINKING the author asserts that suicide is a community problem that can only be addressed by the community. "A central theme of this book that threads through every chapter is that suicidal thinking is often a response to a benighted Soul, struggling to find authentic expression in communities that are hostile or indifferent to its existence. The Soul has a voice that will not be denied and a wisdom that is sound. As we begin to give dignity to that wisdom, we can redirect the suicidal impulse to its more constructive purpose: transformation."  This book is available on Amazon.

September is National Recovery Month

National Recovery MonthEvery September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use issues and celebrate the people who recover.  This year's Recovery Month theme is "Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!" How has your family, or your recovery family, helped you on your road to recovery? For helpful information and resources visit

A toolkit, Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery, is available on their website.

Mental Health Ministries Video – Addiction and Depression

Addiction and Depression shares how addiction to alcohol and/or drugs often masks an underlying depression. The link between addiction and depression can cause a downward spiral leading to severe health problems, especially suicide. Three persons share their stories of addiction and depression that end in recovery.  The full show is available on the Mental Health Ministries DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond and on YouTube

Training Guide: Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for Clergy

Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for ClergyThis recently updated handbook -- created by NACoA’s Clergy Education and Training Project® for SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, provides some basic information on alcoholism and addiction, the impact of parental addiction on children, facts about adolescent alcohol and drug use, and prevention strategies.  It also has an appendix with handouts for use with children of alcohol and drug dependent parents. Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for Clergy can be downloaded on the MHM website and on the NACoA website.

Article: Role of the Clergy: The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on the Person and the Family

Role of the Clergy: The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on the Person and the Family“There is a growing recognition, both inside and outside the framework of traditional religion, that there is a spiritual dimension to addiction.  Unfortunately, clergy in many if not most major U.S. religious faith groups and denominations feel poorly equipped to deal with the problem as it presents itself in the their congregation.” 

This article, by Reverend C. Roy Woodruff, Ph.D., is reprinted from Seminary Journal, Volume 9, Winter 2003, from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.  The article is available on the NACoA website  and on the Mental Health Ministries website in the Articles section.

Addiction Guide

Addiction Guide was created to provide the most comprehensive up-to-date information about various addictions and how to overcome them.  A wide variety of resources and links are available at the Addiction Guide website,

Book – Sparks of Redemptive Grace: Seeking and Seeing God Amid a Loved One's Mental Illness

Sparks of Redemptive GraceMental illness impacts one out of five families each year, but few ae willing to expose the angish and tumult they face daily.  Infomational, devotional, educational and inspirationa, Sparks of Redemptive Grace provides and authentic view of one family’s transparent hope in God’s unfailing love.  For those whose loved one struggles with mental illness, Catherine Downing has shared her story with sincerity, humility and hope.  For friends watching the chaos surrounding such struggles and wanting to understand, this book will open your eyes not only to the family’s needs, but also to the presence of God in their midst.  For clergy and counselors looking for resources to support families in crisis, Sparks of Redemptive Grace offers comforting truths about God’s very real presence in times of trouble.  Available at Amazon.

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Snippets from Susan

Votes as Vows?
I Voted StickerWatching the news may be hazardous to your mental health!  The bombings, shootings and political rhetoric can evoke feelings of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, anger, cynicism and even despair.  These feelings can be even more challenging for persons struggling with PTSD, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

It is impossible to avoid the politics of the upcoming national election.  Democracy is messy especially in this election cycle.  There is so much divisiveness and uncertainty as to what is really true and whether our vote will help to bring hope and healing to a fractured and hurting country…and world.

I read an article about the root of the world “vote.”  It comes from the Latin word meaning “to vow” or “to desire.”  One of its earliest uses in the West was “to assign by a vow, to devote religiously.”  Hence “devoted” and “devote.”

If we understood our votes as vows, we may cast them more wisely and not in anger or frustration.  For the stories we tell, the words we say and the symbols we use to understand ourselves are what will ultimately shape the political debates and our culture as a nation.

The reality is that we are “voting” every day of our lives by the way we live.  A life nourished by faith, beauty, friendship and compassion will shape our culture more than the current news cycle or election process.  My prayer is that we can cast our votes by slowing down, paying attention to the small sacred moments in life and making daily decisions of kindness toward ourselves and others.



Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119