A quarter-century ago, as a rookie police and fire reporter, each morning I reviewed the incident reports to see what had happened in my suburban town. Every few days I would come across a report, usually with brief, vague, hand-written notes from seasoned first responders, that did their best to report that somebody had died by suicide without saying the person had died by suicide. The unwritten rule at my newspaper was that in most circumstances, these reports went unreported. We were unable to talk about it in the polite company of hometown newspapers.
I’ve been lucky. I haven’t known anybody who died by suicide. At least, as far as I know. But I’m sure I’m wrong about that. It’s just been kept quiet, like those newspaper reports.
I’m in the minority. A 2017 Rasmussen Reports survey finds 55% of American adults know somebody who has died by suicide. I have a hunch that you’re reading this because you’re in that 55 percent. I’m truly sorry you’re here.
Over the last few years, Chalice Press has worked to destigmatize mental illness. Sarah Griffith Lund’s Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church, challenged us to consider how we view mental illness and the mentally ill, and we have been so incredibly fortunate to see Sarah’s ministry embraced by so many. Zachary Moon, author of Coming Home: Ministry That Matters with Veterans and Military Families, acknowledges the mental health issues that haunt veterans returning home from combat situations and the disturbingly high suicide rates.
Our third book on mental illness is The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention by Rachael A. Keefe. Rachael knows her material all too well, crediting people of faith for helping her survive multiple suicide attempts and recover – and to find her ministry in suicide prevention. Her love for the church and her love for those who contemplate suicide is evident from her vulnerable, raw writing that will help you see how you and your congregation can save lives. Rachael has written this book with discussion in mind. A downloadable study guide will help you start the conversation, because starting the conversation about suicide can be indescribably painful. She also provides practical actions to help your congregation become a lifesaving community, because it can be so difficult to figure out where to start. Having a starting point is sometimes the most important point in the journey.
For far too many, this book is too late. The Lifesaving Church can help us recognize suicidality and provide the help our friends, our neighbors, or the strangers desperately need.
CBP/Chalice Press President and Publisher