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The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, click here

The Rev. Talitha Arnold’s father died by suicide when she was 2. From that moment on, her family couldn’t ignore mental health concerns, even if their faith community did.

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“The first time I heard the words ‘mental illness’ and ‘suicide’ spoken in church was when I spoke them as a young pastor,” she said.

Social stigma and fear have long prevented difficult conversations about suicide in houses of worship, just as they do in workplaces or coffee shops. But the failure of faith leaders to address this topic has much larger consequences, said the Rev. Arnold, senior minister of the United Church of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

“When the church is silent, it feels like God is silent, too. When the church can’t deal with mental illness issues or suicide, it feels like God can’t either,” she said.

The Rev. Arnold has been working to end the silence around suicide for nearly 35 years, and she’s thankful for the growing number of faith leaders willing to join her in this effort. Hundreds of religious communities will take part in the National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope and Life from Sept. 7-9, praying for people affected by suicide and preaching on mental illness.

“We’re saying, ‘Don’t worry about being perfect. This is an issue. Let’s talk about it,'” said the Rev. Logan Wolf, lead pastor of CrossPoint Church in Utah.

Even just saying the word ‘suicide’ from the pulpit can help save lives, said Melinda Moore, co-chairwoman of the Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and a lead organizer of the prayer weekend.

To read the full article, click here