How does the Faith.Hope.Life. campaign help prevent suicides?

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.