The church needs to learn to listen more as well as giving advice when it comes to supporting people considering suicide, a senior Kirk minister has claimed.
The Rev Ian Galloway, the convener of the Church and Society Council of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, says suicide rates in Scotland among young men are a real concern.
Taking your own life is one of the principal causes of death for young people in industrialised countries, including Scotland.
Now an advert is to be aired on prime-time television highlighting the need for everyone to support individuals contemplating ending their lives.
The campaign is part of the Scottish Government’s "Choose Life Programme", a ten-year plan aimed at reducing suicides in Scotland by 20 per cent by 2013.
The advert suggests that help might be as close as your nearest cabbie or hairdresser – in short, just someone to talk to who will listen.
Mr Galloway commented: “It is commendable that help is being provided to train ordinary people to spot suicidal tendencies and it is very good that a problem that is affecting young people in Scotland, particularly young men is highlighted.
“While such a complex issue as suicide can most effectively be tackled by professionals in many cases just having someone to talk to can help, at least initially.”
Research suggests that suicide is a response to a number of factors affecting an individual’s life. Unemployment, divorce and mental health problems are just some of the reasons young people contemplate suicide.
“In times of economic crisis with high levels of unemployment and a gradual disintegration of family values and community life in favour of the cult of individualism, anything that can be done to help in tackling the social and economic causes that make life difficult for young people is to be welcomed,” said Mr Galloway, “and perhaps we in the church need to learn to listen a bit more as well as talking,” he added.
Suicide amongst young people in Scotland is to be discussed by the Church and Society Council in its report to the General Assembly in May 2010.
The Church of Scotland, which is in the Presbyterian tradition, is the largest Protestant Church - and the largest Christian denomination overall - in Scotland.