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Religions 2018, 9(4), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040123

Flaming Chalice of Hope: A Case Study of Suicide Prevention in a Faith Community

United Suicide Survivors International, 10122 Buena Vista Drive, Conifer, CO 80433, USA
On 7 December 2004, my brother Carson died of suicide. Although I was the only person in my family who was a member of the Jefferson Unitarian Church, the senior minister at the time, Peter Morales, and the Pastoral Care Team took exceptionally good care of my family for the months that followed our tragedy. They helped create a memorial service that honored the life Carson lived while not shying away from the devastation his death left behind. They followed up with all immediate family members for months after his death and started many new mental health and suicide prevention initiatives in subsequent years. While many lessons have been learned, and we continue to evolve, I am deeply grateful for the unique way my faith community has led the effort to break down the silos between spiritual and emotional health.
Received: 7 January 2018 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 March 2018 / Published: 11 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
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Abstract

The integration of spiritual and emotional health is key for the development of a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention. Faith communities play a unique and powerful role in shaping this integration. This case study investigated one United States-based, predominantly White Unitarian Universalist faith community’s efforts in the development of promising practices for “upstream, midstream, and downstream” approaches to suicide prevention. Through a series of in-depth interviews with stakeholders (leadership, volunteers, family members with lived experience), response patterns were used to identify key strategies to promote mental health and prevent suicide. These key strategies include developing healthy social connectedness across one’s life, finding ways to make meaning by connecting with something larger than oneself, and cultivating a community that is compassionate and knowledgeable when assisting its members through emotional crises.
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Keywords: suicide; mental health; faith; religion; spirituality; resilience suicide; mental health; faith; religion; spirituality; resilience
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Spencer-Thomas, S. Flaming Chalice of Hope: A Case Study of Suicide Prevention in a Faith Community. Religions 2018, 9, 123.

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