Church of Scotland seeks to tackle suicide rates amongst young men

By staff writers
May 26, 2011

The Church of Scotland General Assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, has received guidelines produced for members on dealing with the effects of suicide among young men.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among young men in Scotland, say experts.

Pastoral and health workers point out that a person dying young is always one of the most devastating events for a family and when that death results from suicide that tragedy is harder to cope with.

On 26 May 2011, the Rev Ian Galloway, Convenor of the Kirk's Church and Society Council presented to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the guidance document Suicide among young men: the Church as a community of carers.

He declared: "Any suicide, but particularly that of a young person, has a profound effect on the community to which the church seeks to minister. Walking with a family facing a bereavement due to suicide is a challenge that ministers and congregations face regularly and we want to make sure that they have all the support they need."

"We are encouraging Kirk Sessions to use the free training on suicide prevention and bereavement counselling provided by specialist organisations as we know that there is expertise out there we should be using," said Mr Galloway.

He added: "We are also encouraging the Church of Scotland's Ministries Council to engage with Presbyteries to ensure that effective support can be made available to Ministers, should they wish it, on encountering suicide among young men in congregations and parishes".

The report notes that in Scotland, men make up the largest proportion of young people taking their own lives. The peak rate among both men and women is in the 34-44 age range. Among men in the 25-34 age range it is the second highest rate, the overall male to female ratio is about 3:1.

Many churches struggle to know how to deal with issues around suicide, the Kirk admits. It is hoped that the guidance, and sensitive support from those with expertise, will help to change this situation.

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