Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During, and After a Suicidal Crisis
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Faith Communities Task Force, 2019
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors affect people of every race, ethnicity, age, culture, and faith. Faith leaders play a key role in supporting mental health and preventing the tragedy of suicide. Spiritual and religious leaders of all faiths have a long-standing tradition of advising and guiding people through the full arc of life, from birth to death. These leaders are important sources of hope and strength for their congregants, counsel for those in crisis, and comfort and support in the aftermath of a suicide attempt or death. Following a suicide death, it is the faith leader who, at a memorial service or funeral, has a platform to encourage help-seeking by those at risk and remind all to be alert to the risk of suicide in their community. To equip faith leaders with the capabilities needed to prevent suicide and provide care and comfort to all those affected by suicide, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has identified a set of suicide prevention competencies that address the areas of pastoral prevention, intervention, postvention, communication, leadership, support, and mentorship as well as unique organizational ministry settings.