THE main Christian churches in Londonderry today (Wednesday, October 9) hosted academic psychologist Prof Thomas Joiner at a seminar to help local clergy address suicide in a sensitive manner.
The event at Clooney Hall was organised by the Irish Churches Peace Project (ICPP), an initiative of the Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian Churches, the Church of Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches.
The Inter–Church Committee representing the member churches of the Irish Council of Churches and the Irish Episcopal Conference said: “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.”
Tomorrow (Thursday, October 10) the ‘Building Resilience and Promoting Recovery’ conference, organised by the Irish Association of Suicidology and Contact will take place in the city.