Added on 07/10/2013
The Inter–Church Committee representing the member churches of the Irish Council of Churches and the Irish Episcopal Conference has today issued the following statement in advance of the Suicide Prevention and Pastoral Care Seminar for Clergy being held on 9 October 2013 in Derry/Londonderry organised by the Irish Churches Churches Peace Project:
“The problem of suicide across the island of Ireland represents immense personal tragedy for families and communities. Church leaders and faith communities are acutely aware of the devastating suffering that follows the loss of every life through suicide. Together we have been reflecting on how we can best apply our resources of pastoral care, love and community, in cooperation with leadership across civic society, to prevent suicide by addressing the root causes of this most human of problems.
We wish to acknowledge the complexity of suicide and the need to work for suicide prevention with open hearts and informed minds. A person dies by suicide when they run out of strategies to cope with immense pain. An important truth emerging from the research and experience of crisis mental health services exposes the idea of ‘choosing to die by suicide’ as a mistaken assumption.
Many people who die by suicide do so in the belief that there is no other choice. Everyone has a role to play ensuring those suffering in this way know they are not alone and that professional and pastoral supports are available to them in our local communities.
As churches we need to build on our existing ministry of listening and pastoral care with training and support specific to suicide prevention, informed by bereaved families and up–to–date evidence–based practice.
In this context, we encourage engagement with the two important cross–border initiatives taking place in Derry city during the month of October: the faith leaders’ seminar on suicide organised by the Irish Churches’ Peace Project on 9 October and the ‘Building Resilience and Promoting Recovery’ conference, organised by the Irish Association of Suicidology and Contact, which is taking place on 10 October.
The problem of suicide has no boundaries, bewildering and devastating communities across the island. Our coming together to share concerns, experiences and potential solutions, represents an important commitment to meaningfully address the problem of suicide with purpose and compassion. Equally vital is the examination of models and initiatives which have proven successful elsewhere in the world. The tragedy of suicide may feel personally overwhelming, but working and reflecting on this problem together we can find practical solutions for our communities.
As a society we owe a great debt of gratitude for the courage and generosity of all those who have been bereaved by suicide or who have experienced suicidal ideation, who now work tirelessly in our communities so that others might be spared this pain. Their commitment gives us hope and their courage is a powerful call to action.”