Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention supports a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention: prevention (including upstream prevention, which aims to end the root causes of suicidal despair before individuals experience suicidal thoughts, and prevention, including education and awareness around suicide and suicide prevention); intervention (including programs and policies that can safely and effectively help an individual in suicidal crisis); and postvention (including programs and policies that provide support to individuals who have survived a suicidal crisis or suicide attempt as well as to individuals and communities who have lost a loved one to suicide). This comprehensive approach includes implementing efforts that help create healthy, thriving, and resilient communities.
Spiritual communities and faith organizations can play a critical role in preventing the loss of life to suicide, as well as suicidal despair and suicide attempts. For example, as prevention, faith communities can be the types of healthy, resilient, and thriving communities that foster lives worth living. For individuals who feel connected to a faith community, that connection is an important, known protective factor against suicide. At the intervention stage, clergy members and other spiritual community members can be important resources in identifying individuals in suicidal crisis as well as important counselors for suicide loss and attempt survivors. At the postvention stage, spiritual communities can support individuals after a suicidal crisis by including them in their community as well as offer support to bereaved family members and community members.
The Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission’s Spiritual Communities Workgroup, which consists of members of multiple spiritual traditions, racial backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations, has identified suicide-prevention resources that they found to be helpful to assist spiritual communities across the state to locate suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention resources that may be useful within their communities. Some of these resources were designed for general use in any context; some of these resources are tailored to use within spiritual or faith contexts but are not specific to any denomination, and some of these resources are specific to or were developed by certain faith traditions.
Aligning with the Office of Suicide Prevention’s comprehensive prevention model, the Spiritual Communities Workgroup has organized these resources within prevention, intervention, and postvention. Within each category, one can first find programs and resources that are meant for general implementation within many different types of communities as well as programs and resources that are specifically targeted to use within spiritual or faith communities but that are not specific to any one tradition. These general resources are followed by resources that the Spiritual Communities Workgroup members identified that are specific to a certain faith tradition.