Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight September 2019

National Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide Prevention Week – September 8-14

World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10

National Recovery Month


Resources on Suicide

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.–
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Choose Life September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. This month offers the opportunity and resources to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.

September is National Suicide Prevention MonthOur 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. 

National Suicide Prevention LifelineIf 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 8-14

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week 2019National 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. For more information go to

World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10

We observe World Suicide Prevention Day each year on September 10 because the statistics are shocking. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that someone takes their own life every 40 seconds. That’s about 800,000 people worldwide every year — although some estimates put that number closer to 1 million. Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29. And for every suicide that results in death, there are as many as 40 attempted suicides. Information and resources to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention and available at

World Suicide Prevention Day

National Weekend of Prayer – Faith. Hope. Life.

In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day during the second weekend of September, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) invites faith communities across the nation to pray for those whose lives have been touched by suicide. Faith.Hope.Life. offers campaign resources aimed at helping faith communities across our nation play an active role in preventing suicide. 

Some of these resources include:

Other helpful resources are available at the Faith. Hope. Life. website:

  • Understanding and Defining Roles for Faith Leaders and Faith Organizations
  • Equiping and Training Leaders; Engaging Faith Members
  • Promoting Mental Health
  • New resources from Mental Health Ministries include:
  • Understanding Theological Perspectives

A two minute video on the National Weekend of Prayer is available to watch on YouTube.

Article – Why You Should Stop Saying "Committed Suicide"

Your words matter, especially when it comes to mental health. One phrase that you may not be aware is particularly egregious? “Committed suicide.” It’s an expression that many people still lean on, both in the news (take one look at headlines after the recent deaths by suicide of Parkland, Florida, students and the father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim) and in outside conversations. While the term may seem innocuous, it’s actually laden with blame and stigma. So much so that reporting guidelines outlined by mental health and media organizations strictly advise against using it.

“The term ‘committed suicide’ is damaging because for many, if not most, people it evokes associations with ‘committed a crime’ or ‘committed a sin’ and makes us think about something morally reprehensible or illegal,” said Jacek Debiec, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s department of psychiatry who specializes in post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.

Read the article here.

Article – Liturgy for People Affected by Suicide

Liturgy for People Affected by Suicide(This article, written by Samuel Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.) In 2014, St. Martin’s was approached by the Alliance of Suicide Prevention Charities to explore the idea of holding a service to stand in solidarity with those affected by suicide. It quickly became apparent that we would be reaching out to three kinds of people.

The first and most visible were parents of those who had, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, and often after a long struggle with mental health challenges, taken their own life. The second were other family members—spouses, siblings, children. What set the parents apart from other relatives seemed to be that the parents were more likely to have founded charities or in some other way become active in supporting other families or advocating for measures to make suicide less prevalent. The third group we had in mind were those who had themselves attempted suicide, often more than once, and had reached a place where their life was no longer in the same degree of crisis and were willing to speak about what they had been through and offer support to those whose stories had worked out differently.

We’ve gathered today to talk about something that usually evokes silence—silence of shock, pain, terror and loss. We’re gathered to stand in solidarity about something that often keeps people isolated—in despair, grief or guilt. We’ve gathered to find hope together that we perhaps struggle to find alone.

Read the article here.

Videos on Suicide from the Interfaith Network on Mental Health Resources (INMI)

INMI is a non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. They are an interfaith organization, that represents and welcomes participation from all faith traditions, and affirms that spirituality is an important component of recovery from mental illness. Learn more about INMI.

Helpful Video Resources on Suicide

Article – 6 Questions You Can Ask a Loved One to Help Screen for Suicide Risk

6 Questions You Can Ask a Loved One to Help Screen for Suicide RiskOur society is now aware that we are facing a national epidemic. The challenge is to identify and serve individuals who are at risk of attempting and completing suicide before that tragic outcome.

Read the article here.

Resource – Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During and After a Suicidal Crisis

Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During and After a Suicidal CrisisResearch shows that people in suicidal crises are increasingly turning to faith leaders for help and support. This resource, informed by faith community leaders and suicide prevention experts, aims to help equip faith leaders with the capabilities needed to prevent suicide and provide care and comfort for those affected by suicide

View the resource here.

Article – Talking About Teens, Technology and Suicide

10 Ways Churches can Partner with Mental Health ServicesStudents are heading back to school, and with that comes the everyday stress and social and academic pressures that for some can spiral into crisis. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth ages 10–24, and 17 percent of US high school students report they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. In a digitally connected world — where, according to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens go online daily and 72 percent report they spend time with friends on social media — it has become critically important to devise suicide prevention tools and resources that can reach youth where they socialize: online. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention convened a panel of leading suicide experts, youth influencers, and people with firsthand experience with suicide to discuss how social media is being used to reach teens in crisis.

Read the article here.

Blog – I Love Jesus But I Want to Die: What You Need to Know About Suicide

I love Jesus but I want to die: What you need to know about suicideThis blog from a Christian perspective is written by Sarah.  It shares what it FEELS like to want to end your life and how many Christians view suicide as a sin or that they are not spiritual enough.  She writes, “The lie that those walking closely with God don’t ever have suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues is dangerous because it wrongly casts these issues as sin. If we believe depression and dark thoughts are sinful, we’re more likely to feel ashamed and expect God to deal sternly with us. But the truth is he’s good and gracious, not wanting to punish us for our struggles. Depression and suicidal thoughts don’t care about how spiritual we are. I’m sure plenty of devout believers and faithful leaders wish it did. I do.”

Read the blog here.

Podcast – When It's All Too Much: Suicide and the Family

Made for Love Catholic PodcastChris Miller, National Council Partnership on Disability, was recently interviewed for a podcast to help destigmatize mental illness and suicide. You can listen to his story here.  Episode  35

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

Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote HealingThe 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.  This brochure is available as a free download from our website in English and in Spanish.

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

Resources on Faith Communities and Suicide PreventionFaith 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 SPRC website.

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.

MHM DVD – Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One

Stories of Healing and Hope DVDThe Mental Health Ministries DVD, Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One 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.  You can view this video on YouTube. This show is available on the DVD, PTSD, Trauma and Suicide: Stories of Healing and Hope.

Resource Guide – 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 interfaith guidebook is to prepare leaders of all faith communities to prevent, intervene, and respond to suicide. It provides specific suggestions and tools.

View the guidebook here.

Video – Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide

Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide DVDThis 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. 

View the resource here.

Resource Guide – After Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

Review 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. 

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

After a SuicideThis 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

The 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 by the Muslim Mental Health websiteDue 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 is available by clicking 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

Lifesaving Church BookIs 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.

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 YouTube.  A short clip excerpted from the complete show can be viewed.

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.
View on YouTube



September is National Recovery Month

SAMHSA 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. 2019 is the 30th Recovery Month to promote Prevention, treatment and recovery for mental and substance use disorders.

Recovery is not one and done.

New MHM Brochure – Addiction: How Congregations Can Respond

Addiction IllustrationAccording to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.  Mental Health Ministries has a new downloadable brochure to share with your congregation or group. 

Mental Health Ministries has also added a section on Addiction under Resources.  This section includes a selection of guides, training resources, videos, articles, books and other resources. 

Recovery Month Toolkit

Recovery MonthSAMHSA 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)
Spanish (PDF | 2 MB)

The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center)

The Partnership Center, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, leads the department's efforts to build and support partnerships with faith-based and community organizations in order to better serve individuals, families and communities in need.

Toolkit – Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit: Helping Faith and Community Leaders Bring Hope and Healing to Our Communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes that faith-based and community partners eagerly and willingly step in to meet the needs of their colleagues, friends and neighbors — especially during a crisis. As such, they want to equip their partners to respond to the current opioid health crisis — complementing their compassion and local understanding with the expertise of HHS.

View the toolkit here.

Article – How the Opioid Crisis Affects the Elderly

How the Opioid Crisis Affects the ElderlyWith many older persons in our congregations, it is important for our faith communities to recognize the symptoms and provide appropriate support for those who may have an addiction to pain medications.  While older adults make up 12% of the US population, they account for 18% of all suicide deaths. This is an alarming statistic. And as the elderly population grows, the issue of later-life suicide is a major societal issue.

The number one reason Americans today seek medical attention is pain according to the National Institute of Health. In fact, pain is a more common condition than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Some studies have connected opioid misuse with increased levels of depression. Though it’s unclear which usually comes first—the opioid misuse or the depression—this issue can be even more critical for the elderly.

Mental Health America reports that two million of the 34 million older Americans already suffer from depression on some level. Other effects of enduring chronic pain for the elderly are more mental in nature, including the development of issues related to depression, anxiety, feeling isolated, and activity avoidance. Essentially, chronic pain impacts all areas of one’s life, which is why many are now turning to opioids in an effort to ease it.  While older adults make up 12% of the US population, they account for 18% of all suicide deaths. This is an alarming statistic. And as the elderly population grows, the issue of later-life suicide is a major societal issue.

Read the article here.

Opioid Addiction Treatment A Guide for Patients, Families and Friends

MHM Video – Addiction and Depression

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

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 FamilyReverend C. Roy Woodruff, Ph.D. writes, “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 their congregation.” Reprinted from Seminary Journal, Volume 9, Winter 2003 

View the article on the MHM website
View the article @ NACoA

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

Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for ClergyThis 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 NACoA website.

Other Resources – Articles and Books

NAMI – Sermons for the Jewish holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah

In the context of a worship service and in the weekly life of a congregation, the minister is "gatekeeper" to information and beliefs about many controversial topics. If they are open to a holistic understanding of human behavior and mental health issues, they can help overcome shame and stigma rather than reinforce it. The religious leader's words, phrases and delivery during sermons, announcements, prayers and counseling can state or imply either judgment or compassion toward people with mental and emotional conditions. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a section of positive examples of sermons to inspire faith leaders to offer healing and hope to individuals and families living with mental health concerns.

Sample services are offered for Jewish holy days in observance of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, and Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year.  Rosh Hashanah begins in the evening of September 29 and Yom Kippur begins the evening of October 8.   

Brochure – Mental Illness and College Students

Mental Illness and College StudentsFor 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 on the Mental Health Ministries website:
PDF, English
| PDF, Español.

Article – The Least of These: The Intersections of Poverty, Culture, Race and Mental Health

"Churches (faith communities) can begin to address the issue of better access to mental health services by having a referral system set up to help people access what they need. We can invite mental health professionals, using Mental Health First Aid as a model, to come to our churches and educate us about mental health, mental illness and how to help others access treatment.”
Read the article here.

Book – From Shattered to Restored: Recovering Hope, Discovering Purpose

From Shattered to Restored BookIn this stunningly transparent memoir, Nanette Larson shares her journey from a life of constant hopelessness and despair, deep depression, crippling anxiety, and suicidality to one full of victorious hope and purpose.  As a mental health professional herself, Nanette shares with her readers the techniques that helped her address every part of her being--spirit, soul, and body.  For anyone struggling with mental illness, Larson offers hope and solid help, wrapped in her own vulnerable story. An excellent tool for churches, small groups, and recovery support groups.

Available on Amazon.

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If you wish to be added to receive our e-Spotlight newsletter, email Susan with your full name and email at  We send out six e-Spotlights a year full of timely resources.  All our Spotlights are archived on the website and most of the resources included can be found under the Resources section of the Mental Health Ministries website.  The topics are now alphabetized to help you easily access the helpful resources.

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Snippets from Susan

Hummingbird photoJoy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments - often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we're too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments. Other times we're so afraid of the dark we don't dare let ourselves enjoy the light. A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude and inspiration ~ Brené Brown



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