Guidelines

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Every church is affected by suicide and all clergy have some experience of suicide.

You may experience the suicide of a church member or the relative of a church member. You may be affected by the suicide of a friend, neighbour, relative or colleague and you may even experience suicidal feelings yourself.

Churches teach the sanctity of life and that every possible means should be taken to prevent a person from taking his or her own life. Churches are also committed to offering compassionate pastoral care to people who are bereaved or who are in despair.

This handbook is offered as a practical support to help you to respond confidently, sensitively and appropriately to people affected by suicide.

The guidelines are aimed at clergy1, lay pastors, youth workers and all church staff and volunteers who are likely to be involved with people experiencing mental health difficulties and families bereaved by suicide.

The guidelines also provide practical advice to clergy on their role in promoting positive mental health and include a section on how to look after your own mental wellbeing while providing support to others.

The Key Contacts and Resources section provides a set of contacts for other agencies and groups which you can refer people to for ongoing and specialist support.

A recommended Training Pathway for clergy has been developed to complement these guidelines.