Church Invites Members to Pray for Lives Affected by Suicide and Mental Illness
Contributed By Camille West, ChurchofJesusChrist.org Church News editor
- Participate September 7–9 in the National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life.
“Join your prayers with the many others participating this weekend in such a worthy cause. Together, we can help to provide hope, from the true source of all hope, to those who desperately need it.” —Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr. of the Seventy
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invites its members to join others across the United States in prayer this weekend for those whose lives have been affected by suicide or who are struggling with suicidal behavior and mental illness.
September 7–9, 2018, is the National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life sponsored by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds globally, with more than 800,000 deaths due to suicide each year. That’s approximately one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide.
Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr. of the Seventy spoke at the Utah State Capitol Friday, September 7, to help promote the weekend of prayer and continue the Church’s participation in Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert’s Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Elder Curtis concluded his remarks by listing what he will be praying for this weekend. “My prayer is that we will all recognize things that we can do to help those around us who might be struggling and that we will have the courage to do those things,” he said. “I pray for those who feel marginalized and alone that they will know they are our brothers and sisters. I pray that they will feel loved, valued, and needed in their homes, their congregations, and their communities. I pray they will know of the genuine love and concern we have for them. Their struggle is our struggle.” (Read Elder Curtis’s full remarks.)
Other Church leaders have also addressed the topic of suicide recently.
In a September 2 Facebook post, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked those suffering from feelings of self-harm, isolation, or hopelessness to seek help. “Ask for help from your Heavenly Father and the Savior, who understand you and your circumstances completely,” his post read. “Ask for help from family and friends who are keenly interested in your well-being. Ask for help from caring professionals who can use their training to help you. You are loved and needed, and there are many who are eager to assist in time of need.“
In a September 6 Facebook post, Sister Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, assured anyone who may be suffering that they are not alone. “Through your faith, the support of others, and effective treatment by trained professionals, you can persevere through the darkness of today and soon experience a rich and rewarding life. You can find peace in Christ.”
In a series of videos released in July, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encourages Latter-day Saints to listen to and love those considering suicide. “Reach out in love and caring for those who have suicidal thoughts, who have attempted suicide, who feel marginalized in any way,” Elder Renlund says. “We need to reach out with love and understanding. And you do that in concert with health care professionals, with ecclesiastical leaders, with friends and family support.”
Following is a list of some of the helpful resources the Church has created to increase awareness about suicide and encourage communication and support among Latter-day Saints:
- Preventingsuicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, also available in the Gospel Library app, provides essential information for those who are contemplating suicide, including links to crisis hotlines. It also describes proactive measures that people can take if they are worried about someone who might be considering suicide. The website’s “Understanding” section for people either struggling with suicidal thoughts or worrying about someone who is struggling includes a list of warning signs. Finally, it reaches out to those who have lost a loved one to suicide with counsel and comfort.
- A notice to all leaders worldwide invites members of the Church to “take an active role within their communities to minister to those who have thoughts of suicide or who are grieving a loss.”
- A 6-page guide, “Preventing Suicide and Responding after a Loss,” reviews Church doctrine on suicide, the warning signs of suicide, how to help someone in crisis, and how to respond after a suicide loss. Leaders have been asked to review this document with stake and ward councils and discuss how to support community efforts and how to inform members about available resources.
- Articles in the September issues of the Church magazines address suicide. Read the Ensign magazine’s “Suicide: Myths and Facts” and “Suicide Prevention” and the New Era’s “Ambassadors of Hope: Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”
- A series of hopeful videos, several featuring Elder Renlund, encourages Latter-day Saints to listen to and love those considering suicide. Two other videos feature personal stories—one of a woman who found hope after surviving a suicide attempt, the other of a father who endured the suicide of his son away at college.
- Mormon Channel has a playlist of videos about suicide.
- The Gospel Topic about suicide lists helpful articles and scriptures. “Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention and should learn the risk factors and warning signs,” it says.
- “Depression and Suicide” in the “Understanding” section of mormonandgay.ChurchofJesusChrist.org explains how gay individuals may be at higher risk for suicide.