Frequently Asked Questions about Faith.Hope.Life Campaign

Suicide does not discriminate. Without regard for race, ethnicity or gender, it can strike the lives of the rich and famous, the down and out, and the just plain ordinary. You can be confident that for every 100 people in your faith community several will seriously consider suicide in any given year. Compare that with the number who will suffer a heart attack, cancer or a stroke. Then, imagine the disruption these thoughts cause them, their families, and those around them, even though many may never speak of the fact that they are living with those terrible thoughts.

By promoting the faith messages of Faith.Hope.Life. you can help these individuals resolve those thoughts in a positive and healthy way. Additionally, you may be able to not only prevent the thoughts, but their terrible consequences—a suicide attempt or a suicide.

Faith.Hope.Life. Sabbath can be observed any week during the year; however, we encourage you to align it, if possible, with September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day. Aligning with the observance of Mental Health Month in May or with National Minority Mental Health Month in July are other logical timing choices.

Having an active faith and having a healthy involvement in a faith community have both been shown through research to help protect people from suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and death by suicide. Time and time again, studies have shown faith to have a very powerful effect, pointing to “protective” factors, such as, hopefulness, social connections, and reasons for living, that tend to be stronger in people of faith.

Promoting an understanding that mental health challenges and mental illnesses are as “real” as physical health problems and that individuals facing any kind of health problem should seek effective treatment without prejudice or discrimination.  A more accurate understanding of mental and emotional health challenges, mental illness, and substance abuse can be achieved through an open dialogue in the faith community and by speaking about these problems with the same openness as we speak about physical illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. By simply praying for members who are facing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and problems with alcohol and other substances, even if without mentioning their names, you send a message that these members are just as important and deserving of care and support as those with physical challenges.  Also, you send a message that these illnesses, disorders, and challenges are real health problems and not character flaws or spiritual failings.

Responding to person in suicide crisis in an effective and caring way. Many people seek the care and support of their faith leaders first when confronted with a crisis, including a suicide crisis. Therefore, when faith leaders are prepared to talk openly with someone facing the darkness of suicide, there is an opportunity to help them find a pathway toward life and health. Similarly, how a faith leader responds to those who have survived a suicide crisis or a suicide by someone they know and love can make a huge difference in their recovery and assimilation back into the community.

There are many very practical ways faith leaders and faith communities can help prevent suicides, whether locally, state-wide, or nationally. In many cases, it is easy to integrate suicide prevention activities into programs that already exist in your faith community. For instance, distributing wallet cards that list common warning signs of suicide and/or indications someone is having trouble coping. Both encourage concerned individuals to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Another idea is to establish relationships with “faith-respecting” mental health professionals in the community. These are two common examples.

For additional ideas, check out The Role of Faith Community Leaders in Preventing Suicide, published by the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and also an archived webinar produced by the Action Alliance on the Role of Faith Leaders in Suicide Prevention.

 

The Faith.Hope.Life campaign is the product of the Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Current members of the task force are:

  • Talitha Arnold, MDiv — Co-Lead, Private Sector, Senior Minister, United Church of Santa Fe
  • David Litts, OD—Co-Lead, Private Sector, Consultant
  • Anne Mathews-Younes, EdD, DMin — Co-Lead, Public Sector, Director, Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress & Special Programs, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Farha Abbasi, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Faculty, Muslim Studies Program, Michigan State University
  • Miriam Ament, Founder and President, No Shame on U
  • Glen Bloomstrom, MDiv, MS, MA; Military Director, Living Works Education & Adjunct Professor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
  • Paul Cantz, PsyD, ABPP, Associate Professor; University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine; Adler University - Chicago
  • Mahira Elder, LLMSW, Muslim Family Services
  • Efrem L. Epstein, Founder, Elijah's Journey (A Jewish Response to the Issues of Suicide Awareness and Prevention)
  • Ben Goldstein, Rabbi, Temple Beth El Mekor Chayim
  • Rabbi Ari Hart, Associate Rabbi, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
  • Gregory Hudnall, EdD, Executive Director, Hope4Utah, Bishop, LDS Church
  • Kalman Kaplan, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, College of Medicine, Chicago
  • Kimberly Konkel, MSW, Associate Director for Health, Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Karen Mason, PhD, LPC, Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • Sherry Molock, PhD, Senior Advisor for Outreach and Engagement, National Institute for Mental Health
  • Melinda Moore, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University
  • LaVonne Ortega, MD, MPH; Senior Advisor, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Pamela Ovwigho, PhD, Research Director, Center for Bible Engagement
  • Joshua Rivedal, Founder and Executive Director of The i'Mpossible Project, Author, International Public Speaker

The Faith Communities Task Force of the Action Alliance thanks UHS of Delaware for creating and donating the Faith.Hope.Life. logo. The logo shows an icon at the top of a hill that signifies each individual who overcomes struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide and reaches toward the future with a new positive outlook.

You may be noticing something old and something new with our logo and tag line. As our work has evolved we have seen the need for a different way to describe our work.  We decided that we would create another tag line for our suicide prevention efforts, “Faith.Hope.Life. Celebrating reasons to live” to accompany our current graphic. We hope that you like this new look!  And most importantly, we hope that you will share these suicide prevention materials widely as you underscore the importance of Faith.Hope.Life!