The church is for the broken. A church without the broken is a broken church.
For many around the world, mental illness is a not just a theoretical issue. Instead, it plays itself out in many ways and can impact nearly every moment of every day. For some, the struggle is manageable; although disruptive, they are still able to function at near normal capacity.
Others, however, have a very different experience. I had an aunt who struggled with mental illness and, tragically, took her own life. Unfortunately, knowing someone who takes his or her own life as a result of mental illness is not that uncommon.
Two studies were recently conducted by LifeWay Research, one that focused on churchgoer views regarding suicide and the second on pastor views. Both studies were sponsored by the American Association of Christian Counselors, the Liberty University Graduate Counseling program, the Liberty University School of Medicine, and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The studies found that 55% of churchgoers say they hear about a suicide in their local community nearly once per year, and 32% have had a close family member or acquaintance take his or her own life.
Churches Have a Role
According to these studies, 76% of churchgoers agree that suicide is a problem that needs to be proactively addressed in their local communities and 84% agree churches have a responsibility to provide resources and support to individuals with mental illness and their families. Overwhelmingly, churchgoers agree that suicide and mental health need to be addressed and that the church has a responsibility to be a leading voice in the conversation.
Among Protestant churchgoers who have had a family member or close acquaintance die by suicide, only 4% said that church leaders were aware of the person’s struggles …
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