This Training Pathway is offered as a practical support to help churches to respond confidently, sensitively and appropriately to people affected by suicide.
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 training is aimed at clergy, 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 Training Pathway has been designed by ‘Flourish!’- a Churches’ Initiative on Suicide (developed by the Churches Community Work Alliance, Lighthouse Ireland and clergy from across the Christian churches in Northern Ireland) in partnership with the Public Health Agency.
The pathway has been designed with advice from mental health professionals, churches, statutory agencies and community based mental health groups and organisations.
Flourish! has also produced a set of ‘Suicide Awareness Guidelines for Clergy’ and an associated website with guidelines, resources, contacts and links to support churches responding to suicide and promoting positive mental health. The website address is www.weareflourish.com
The ‘Flourish!’ initiative has received the ‘support and encouragement’ of the Four Church Leaders in Ireland.
‘Churches are at the forefront in caring for families and communities who have been affected by the suicide of a loved one. This support, which takes many forms, is long term and holistic. The project aims to enhance this support through training, awareness raising and helpful liturgical initiatives…it has the potential to make an important contribution to the care of many in our society.’(The Four Church Leaders in Ireland, 2013)