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Church Releases Letter About Suicide Prevention and Helping Others After Loss

On August 9, the Church released a letter outlining how Church members can better "take an active role within their communities to minister to those who have thoughts of suicide or who are grieving a loss." The letter includes resources to help Latter-day Saints understand Church teachings about suicide, how to recognize warning signs, how to help someone in crisis, and how to support loved ones grieving a family member who has taken their own life.

In the letter, the Church clearly outlines LDS doctrine regarding suicide, stating:

"Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ experienced the fulness of mortal challenges so He could know 'how to succor his people according to their infirmities' (Alma 7:11–13). James E. Faust taught: 'Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, He can help the weak to become stronger' (“The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 22).
"Mortal life is a precious gift from God—a gift that should be valued and protected (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10; M. Russell Ballard, “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 6–9).
"When someone takes their own life, only God is able to judge their thoughts, their actions, and their level of accountability. Suicide need not be the defining characteristic of an individual’s eternal life (see 1 Samuel 16:7; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9; Dale G. Renlund, “Grieving after a Suicide Loss,” video at suicide.lds.org)."

In the letter, the Church encourages members to begin having honest and direct conversations about suicide, especially those who show warning signs, suggesting that they 1) ask a person directly if he or she is thinking about suicide, 2) care by listening to their concerns and creating safety plans, 3) and encourage those having suicidal thoughts to tell someone who can offer more support.

This letter is part of the Church's ongoing efforts to provide resources and raise awareness about suicide prevention. Earlier this summer, the Church released a video series about suicide which featured Elder Dale G. Renlund, who encouraged Latter-day Saints to “reach out in love and caring for those who have suicidal thoughts, who have attempted suicide, who feel marginalized in any way. We need to reach out with love and understanding. And you do that in concert with healthcare professionals, with ecclesiastical leaders, with friends and family support.”

Elder Renlund also taught that the “old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever” is “totally false.” He adds that “we know from all the statistics out there that someone in the ward [congregation] is hurting. Someone is having suicidal thoughts in your ward. And as we come together as families, as churches, in a community, we can do better than we’re doing now. … Heavenly Father is pleased when we reach out and help His children. I think He’s profoundly pleased.”

Read the full letter and find more resources on suicide.lds.org.

Lead image from suicide.lds.org
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