The Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health are partnering to offer free suicide prevention training for faith leaders in rural communities. This April and May, training will be offered to rural congregation leaders of all faiths and denominations.
“Faith is an important cornerstone in the lives of many farm families, but we’ve learned that pastors, priests, and other faith and spiritual leaders often don’t discuss suicide prevention techniques during their religious training,” MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen said in a press release. “With rural suicide rates being 2.5-3 times higher than the national average, teaching these skills to trusted community member like clergy is crucial.”
Rural living and agricultural occupations come with their own set of stressors, according to the release — stress that can be compounded by stigmatization and limited access to mental health resources.
The trainings will equip faith leaders with the ability to recognize and engage with someone who may be dealing with suicidal thoughts, connect them with help and resources, and support those who have been affected by suicide.
Training will span the course of four weeks with an online curriculum from LivingWorks Faith and weekly virtual discussions. The organization focuses on community based suicide prevention and creating networks of support. Glen Bloomstrom, LivingWorks Faith’s director of faith community engagement, will facilitate the training.
Training for the southern region of the state begins Thursday, April 27. Enrollment is free but space is limited and pre-registration is required.
For more information, visit the “Suicide Prevention Skills for Rural Ministry-Southern Minnesota” Eventbrite webpage.