Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight September 2017

National Suicide Prevention Week – September 10-17

World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10


September is National Recovery Month


The September e-Spotlight features resources on suicide and recovery.  At any given time, 1 in 17 adults and 1 in 6 youth are considering suicide.  Mental Health Ministries has a section with resources on spirituality/faith and suicide in the Resource list on our website.  

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week - September 10-17

Suicide PreventionNational 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. 

World Suicide Prevention Day - September 10

World Suicide Prevention Day
Suicide 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.

Information and resources to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention and available on their website.

Faith.Hope.Life. Campaign on Suicide Prevention

Faith.Hope.Life.Faith. Hope. Life is an opportunity for every faith community in the United States, regardless of creed, to focus on one Sabbath each year on the characteristics common to most faiths that also help prevent suicides.  The Faith.Hope.Life Sabbath can be observed any time during the year but it is especially appropriate in September during National Suicide Prevention Week.

The Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has assembled an array of resources to help you celebrate Faith.Hope.Life.  Some of the resources on their website,, include:

Faith.Hope.Life. is an initiative of the Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. All the information and resources necessary to launch  Faith.Hope.Life. in your faith community are available on their website,

You can download the Faith.Hope.Life campaign by clicking here.

Webinar - Faith.Hope.Life: The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention

Faith communities of all traditions have an important part to play in fostering mental health and helping prevent suicide. Faith leaders are on the "front lines" --the first people many turn to in times of emotional or spiritual crises. Moreover, our congregations offer the faith and hope needed to get through the most difficult of times. This webinar offers practical information about suicide prevention for faith leaders and it 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 will introduce an exciting initiative entitled Faith.Hope.Life; a campaign designed to equip faith community leaders with resources and information about suicide prevention. Participants will learn how to use Faith.Hope.Life to promote mental health and wellness, and prevent suicide within the context of faith communities. Both faith community leaders (clergy and lay) and suicide prevention practitioners who are interested in working with faith community leaders to help prevent suicide are encouraged to participate.

This webinar was recorded and you can view this recording by clicking here.

Netflix Series –13 Reasons Why

There has been a lot of media discussion about the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.”  The series traces the two-year road toward a young woman’s suicide, told two weeks after the event from the perspective of a friend to whom she had mailed a set of recordings. He in turn traces the pathway that led to her tragic death, seeking answers from others who are named in her narrative. 

Mental Health America staff people held an honest, hour-long Facebook live conversation about the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” about suicide, and about suicide prevention.  MHA President and CEO, Paul Gionfriddo, said, “Suicide rates have been increasing in the United States. 13 Reasons Why is in part a response to this. The only way to be certain that it – or any other depiction of suicide – won’t is through bringing this fight against suicide out into the open.”  Gionfriddo’s  blog article and additional resources are available at 13 Resources for “13 Reasons Why” by MHA President and CEO Paul GionfriddoThe 13RW webinar can be viewed on YouTube.

Articles – Rutgers University Online Suicide Resources

Rutgers University offers a number of online courses.  Their page with extensive suicide resources is designed for social workers but can be helpful to anyone wanting to learn more about the many issues surrounding suicide.  The site offers many articles under four sections: Signs, Prevention, Get Help and Awareness and Assistance. 

MHM DVD - Stories of Healing and Hope: PTSD, Trauma and Suicide

Stories of Healing and HopeThe 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.

MHM 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

MHM 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. 

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

Soul Shop Movement

The Soul Shop™ Movement exists due to the need of desperately hurting people to be heard, noticed, and seen within their faith communities. Soul Shop™ provides training and support to faith community leaders. They provide workshops in various areas of the country but also have resources available on their website.  Besides the training they offer, their website has helpful information any congregation can use including:

Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry

Lutheran Suicide Prevention MinistryThe 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.

Guide – The Role of Clergy in Preventing Suicide

The Role of Clergy in Preventing SuicideStrategy for Suicide Prevention have partnered on a valuable resource for clergy, The Role of Clergy in Preventing Suicide.  They 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.  It also has a list of helpful references and resources.  PDF file available at on the Mental Health Ministries website in the Suicide resource section and on the Lutheran Suicide Prevention website.

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.

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

Role of Faith Communities in Suicide PreventionThe 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. The purpose of the guide is to provide 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.

Resource – Preventing Suicide

Preventing Suicide is a Christian-Based resource for preventing suicide. It includes resources to help people in crisis, video vignettes of people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts/actions. It provides help for people living with suicidal ideations, loved ones of people with suicidal ideations and support for people who have lost a loved one to a completed suicide. This resource was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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

After a SuicideThis 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 – A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression

Relentless HopeIn 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.  Available on the website Surviving Teen Depression.

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

September is National Recovery Month

September is 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 the website.

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

MHM 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 ProblemsThis 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 their website.

Article – 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 their 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 are 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.

Article – On Faith and Recovery

Different faith traditions can have surprisingly similar practices. The religious holidays of Ash Wednesday, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan have common themes of fasting, atonement, self-restraint, and reflection on becoming a better person.  Most of the year, our religious beliefs don’t demand that kind of sacrifice. Rather, research shows that the rituals of common worship and personal prayer (or meditation) enrich our well-being. Faith can be a supportive pillar—but for a long time the field of psychotherapy viewed it as a crutch at best, a delusion at worst.

Nowadays, many therapists recognize that science and spirituality aren’t necessarily incompatible. Some practitioners even subscribe to an approach known as “spiritually integrated psychotherapy” or “spiritually oriented psychotherapy.”  It’s still a touchy area, however. A 2015 study published in the journal Social Work found more than 80 percent of licensed clinical social workers said discussing religion and spirituality in therapy contributes to improved health and mental health, but only a fraction did so in their own practices.  How the therapist’s own beliefs might intrude is one concern. For people whose mania has religious overtones, “hyperreligiosity” also can become a concern—rightly or wrongly.

Flight of Ideas on Faith and RecoveryMelody Moezzi recalls a psychiatrist who “pathologized” her daily prayers. She has a reflection in bp Hope and Harmony on bridging the gap between medicine and religions.

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Snippets from Susan

Some years ago I attended a Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation at the Mercy Retreat Center in San Francisco.  As you enter the building, these words are written on the wall. 

Let the guest come so the community might be healed.

May it be so.



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