Why should churches be involved in ministry concerning suicide?
Summary: So, to keep it simple. 25% of the people in your community are struggling with mental health issues. Over 20% of teens and 10% of adults struggle with suicidal thoughts. Understanding how you can better meet the needs of these groups can help you better meet the needs of your community. Also, most of your members struggle with mental health issues or have people close to them who do. Lastly, the vast majority of people are affected in some way with loss associated with suicide.
It is important because of the overall scope of the need.
- Suicide statistics for 2019 in the USA
- Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death
- 47,511 people died from suicide
- 1.38 million people attempted suicide
- Nearly 10% of adults are thinking suicide and over 4% are thinking seriously about suicide.
- 25% of all adults suffer a mental health issue at some time in their life and 20% at any given time.
- The statistics for teens are even worse. According to the annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in 2019
- Suicide was the number one leading cause of death.
- Over 20% were thinking about suicide.
- 18.9% of high school students thought seriously about suicide.
- 15.7% thought seriously enough about suicide to make a plan
- 8.9% of teens in grades 9-12 attempted suicide.
It is important because of how it affects the community around the church.
Virtually everyone is affected by suicide directly or indirectly. Because of this, we have the opportunity to provide hope and healing to those who live in the communities our churches serve.
Studies show that up to 25% of the people in our communities are struggling with mental health issues. In most communities, this would be the greatest challenge the community faces. Finding better ways to meet these needs is one of the most important things the church can do for its community.
It is important because of how it affects the membership of the church.
“Within two years of a suicide, at least 80 percent of survivors will either leave the church they were attending and join another or stop attending church altogether. The two most common reasons for this are one, disappointment due to unmet expectations and two, criticism or judgmental attitudes and treatment.” Biebel and Foster
In a 2017 LifeWay study, one-third of churchgoers reported that a close friend or family member had died by suicide. Only 4 percent said church leaders or members were aware of their struggles.
You would probably be surprised at just how many people in your church are struggling with suicidal thoughts or who have family and friends who do. The last church I was on staff at was around 60 members. When we started making mental health ministry a priority and started a mental health support group, I was blown away by the number of people who came to me to talk about their or someone in their family’s struggle with suicidal thoughts. I had five separate members come and talk with me in one month.
Suicide Prevention for Churches is the only program designed to help churches learn how to better meet the needs of those struggling with suicidal thoughts, those who struggle with mental illness, and their families.