217209 Faith Leaders' Perceptions Regarding Suicide Prevention: Roles, Responsibilities, and Opportunities

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Richard Goldsworthy, PhD, MSEd , Academic Edge, Inc., Bloomington, IN
Background. Faith leaders are an important component of national suicide prevention strategies; however, little is known about faith leaders' experiences with and attitudes toward suicide prevention practice. Methodology. Structured interviews were conducted among diverse faith leaders (n=30) purposively sampled from national faith-organization directories. Interviews elicited information regarding training for, experience with, attitudes toward, and barriers to conducting suicide prevention activities within respondents' faith organizations. Multiple-stage qualitative, descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted. Results. Most participating faith leaders have interacted, or expect to interact, with someone experiencing suicidal ideation; however, the frequency of these experiences are generally low, leading to significant gaps from one experience to the next. Participants identified several barriers, including the lack of opportunity to actively identify at-risk faith members, and the need for immediately accessible local mental health resources, educational materials for faith members, and ongoing professional development opportunities. Discussion.Faith leaders work with those with suicide-related concerns, ranging from a faith member's own suicidal ideation to supporting those affected by suicide. Future efforts should confirm and better quantify factors affecting faith leaders' performance, with particular attention to additional representation among non-Judeo-Christian faith organizations. Additionally, several participants raised the issue of assisted-suicide, an unexpected theme that merits further attention. The results also suggest that faith leader practice would be augmented by development of easy-to-adopt and easy-to-modify educational tools for faith leaders and for their faith members, including cases and modules tailored to different faith settings and interpersonal situations. Funded in part by NIH/NIMH grant # R41MH077401.

Learning Objectives:
explain the key gatekeeping role faith leaders play in relation to suicide prevention among faith members describe qualitative research regarding faith leaders' perceptions of their role in suicide prevention describe quantitative models of faith leader beliefs, barriers, and facilitators related to suicide prevention delineate key needs identified among faith leaders discuss the implications of these mixed methods results for designing training and performance support tools for faith leaders

Keywords: Suicide, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as principal investigator on the NIMH-funded effort, have 15+ years experience in health behavioral change and professional development, and the associated team includes widely respected expects in suicide prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.