10 key action steps for clergy to help prevent suicide

Home/10 key action steps for clergy to help prevent suicide


  1. Take all warning signs seriously and do something.
  2. Show you care and want to help.
  3. Ask the person to tell you what is wrong.
  4. Ask the person if they are thinking about ending their life 
  5. (This will not put the idea in their head).
  6. Listen without being judgemental and offer support. 
  7. Remove anything that could be dangerous.
  8. Don’t leave the suicidal person alone.
  9. Be positive and point out choices.
  10. Don’t promise confidentiality.
  11. Get professional help.

After the immediate crisis provide any relevant information you may have about the person to those who are managing the crisis and keep in contact with the person to provide ongoing care and support if he or she wants it. Ask the person to promise they will tell someone if suicidal thoughts return. Draw on other church and community leaders to provide support as appropriate. As you visit and pray with the person at risk the priority is keeping the person safe, providing empathy and support, and ensuring that the individual receives the mental health and/or social services necessary to reduce his or her risk. However, it is important that you recognise your limits. Some clergy are trained as mental health counsellors, but many are not. It is advisable to stay within your scope of competence and refer to other health care professionals who can best attend to the mental health needs of the individuals you work with.

Continue to next page