Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight September 2018

National Suicide Prevention Week – September 9-15
World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10
September is National Recovery Month


The September e-Spotlight features resources on suicide and recovery.  With a number of high profile persons dying by suicide, the national media is giving coverage to the alarming facts about suicide and addressing suicide prevention.  Suicide now takes more lives annually than car accidents.  The CDC has reported that deaths by suicide are up 25% since 1999 and the largest increase in suicide is middle age persons between the ages of 45-64 and among white women.

Suicide GraphicMore 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.
To help educate our faith communities about suicide, Mental Health Ministries has put together a section with a wide variety of print and media resources on spirituality/faith and suicide.  These are available under the Resource list on our website. 

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week - September 9-15

Suicide Prevention LifelineNational 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.  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 DayWorld Suicide Prevention Day is observed on September 10 each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides. Various events and activities are held during this occasion to raise awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.  Information and resources to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention and available at

National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope & Life

National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope & LifeSeptember 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. The weekend of September 8-10, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention invites faith communities across the nation to pray for those whose lives have been touched by suicide. Learn more about National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope & Life, go to:

For more information watch a short two minute video on this initiative.

Brochure - Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote Healing

Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote HealingMental Health Ministries has a downloadable brochure on mental illness and college students with facts and ways that our faith communities can recognize and support persons who may be at risk.  This brochure is available in English and in Spanish.

Resources on Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention: Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

Resources on Preventing SuicideFaith communities are a natural setting for suicide prevention. Spiritual beliefs and practices tend to help people experience greater hope and meaning in their lives. Faith communities can also provide opportunities for developing positive relationships with others and can be an important source of support during difficult times.  They can offer counseling and other support as people with mental health problems, including suicide risk, often turn to faith community leaders for help.

How Faith Communities Can Take Action
The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components: 

  • Promote emotional well-being and connectedness among members of your faith community
  • Identify people who may be at risk for suicide and assist them in getting help
  • Be prepared to respond to a suicide death and provide support to the survivors 

For a wide variety of resources, articles, books and videos, visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

SPRC Resource Guide – The Role of Faith Community Leaders in Preventing Suicide

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center put together a comprehensive resource guide, The Role of Faith Community Leaders in Preventing Suicide, through a grant with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA). It provides basic information to help faith community leaders recognize and respond to people who may be suicidal or at high risk. It also contains a list of relevant resource materials and organizations.  This guide is available as a PDF file from the SPRC at or on the Mental Health Ministries website under the Suicide section. Administration

Mental Health Ministries DVD – Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One

The Mental Health Ministries DVD, Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved Onefeatures 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.  You can view this video on YouTube.

This show is available on the DVD, PTSD, Trauma and Suicide: Stories of Healing and Hope.

Article – Help Your College Student Combat a Major Danger: Depression

Help Your college student combat depressionThis article by Marcia Morris M.D. offers four ways your college student can defeat depression.

Brochure – Mental Illness and College Students

Mental Illness and College StudentsAs students return to school this fall, studies show that there is an alarming increase in depression and suicide among teens and young adults.  In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15–34 years. Among young adults aged 18–25 years, 8.3 percent have had serious thoughts of suicide.  Depression is the biggest risk factor for suicidal youth and one in three students report having experienced prolonged periods of depression.

For many college students the first time they are away from home is when they enter higher education. The college experience is challenging for all students as they navigate through making new friends, achieving academic success, establishing their identity, learning to live independently, and planning their futures.  Available in English and Spanish.

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

Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith LeadersThe purpose of this interfaith guidebook is to prepare leaders of all faith communities to prevent, intervene, and respond to suicide. It provides specific suggestions and tools.

Video – Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide

Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of SuicideThis DVD looks at the role of faith in coping with suicide from the perspectives of families, mental health professionals, and theologians. It comes with a study guide.  Available from MennoMedia.

Book - Suicide Pastoral Responses

Suicide: Pastoral ResponsesThis book provides information and case examples on assessing suicide risk, dealing with suicidal behavioral and attempts, and responding to suicide deaths. It is most useful for faith community leaders who have training and experience in mental health counseling. Available on Amazon.

Resource Guide – After Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

After Suicide School ToolkitReview from American School Counselor Association (ASCA):

"A student suicide has a tremendous impact on the entire school as well as the broader community. School administrators, faculty, and staff are called on to provide leadership and strength to students and their families, even though they themselves may be shaken emotionally and unsure of the proper actions to take. They will be grappling with issues such as immediate crisis response, helping students and parents cope, and communicating with the school and wider community, as well as the media. After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, is a valuable guide to help school personnel prepare for the tumultuous and stressful aftermath of a student suicide and to help prevent future tragedies."

Available on the MHM Website in the Suicide Resources Section.

Resource Guide - After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Observances

After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial ServicesThis guide by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center is for 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.  It is available as a PDF file on the Mental Health Ministries website.

Resources for Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention

Resources on suicide prevention, intervention and postventionThe Mental Health Task Force of CRC and Christian Reformed Church in America Disability Concerns ministries has curated resources on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. They created a bulletin insert and worship resources to assist congregations in thinking about this painful but important subject that touches so many people. See links below to order printed copies of the bulletin insert from your denominational office.

Muslim Resource Guide – Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention - Islamic GuideDue to the Muslim community’s stigma around mental health, there is a lack of Muslim-specific research. To help educate imams (and other faith leaders), teachers and parents, the Muslim Mental Health website offers excellent resources on Suicide Prevention. 

A variety of resources are included on their website. The guide, Suicide Prevention can be found here..  A downloadable PDF file is also available on the Mental Health Ministries website in the Suicide section.

“Whoever saves one life, it is written as if they have saved all of humanity.”
[Qur’an 5:32]

Book – The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention

Toward a Theology of Psychological DisorderIs your church prepared to save lives? Every year, millions of people engage in suicidal activity, yet the Church remains largely silent around mental health and suicide prevention. Pastor and suicide survivor Rachael Keefe shares her own personal story of lifelong depression, eating disorders, and suicidality to equip congregations to recognize and respond to those suffering silently in the pew. Memoir, theological reflection, and action guide combined, each chapter concludes with a "What Your Congregation Can Do Now" section to get you started building a community of abundant life for all.

A video with more information about the book is available on YouTube.

A study guide to accompany the book is available.

Book available at Chalice Press.

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. 

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

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.

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.

Book - A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression

A 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 at

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


Recovery MonthEach September, SAMHSA sponsors National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, and celebrate the individuals living in recovery. Now in its 29th year, the 2018 Recovery Month observance focuses on urban communities, health care providers, members of the media, and policymakers, highlighting the various entities that support recovery within our society.

The 2018 Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community,” explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. The 2018 observance also aims to increase awareness and encourage audiences to take advantage of the increased dialogue around behavioral health needs and the increased emphasis on tackling our nation’s opioid crisis.
The observance will work to highlight inspiring stories that help thousands of people from all walks of life find the path to hope, health, and wellness. In addition, the materials support SAMHSA’s message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.  For helpful information and resources visit

Recovery Month Toolkit

Each year, Recovery Month creates a toolkit to help individuals and organizations increase awareness of the power of recovery. The kit provides tips and resources for planning Recovery Month events and distributing information in communities across the nation.
Download the complete 2018 Recovery Month Toolkit at English (PDF | 594 KB)

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 ProblemsThis 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 found here.

Article - Faith and Religion in Recovery

Faith and Religion in RecoveryOver the past century we’ve seen myriad medications, therapy modules and self-help routines developed to battle the problem. Faith and spirituality remain among the most time-tested supplements in the world of addiction treatment and provide a core value for many rehab facilities and community support groups that yield success stories.” Article can be found here.

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Snippets from Susan

WoodsLetting go of the need to control our spiritual path is especially helpful in the dark night because in these times we do not choose a path. We experience the path as given. Walking in trust, along the path that is given, is our way of saying yes to God.
~ Sondra Cronk



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