Minnesota Agencies Offer Suicide Training to Rural Ministry Leaders

free suicide prevention trainings
(Minnesota) — March 23, 2023 — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are partnering to offer free suicide prevention trainings for rural faith leaders this April and May. Clergy and lay leaders who serve rural congregations of all faiths and denominations are welcome.

“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,” said MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen. “With rural suicide rates being 2.5-3 times higher than the national average, teaching these skills to trusted community members like clergy is crucial.”

These trainings will help teach faith leaders how to recognize and engage with someone who is having suicidal thoughts, connect that person to help, and support family and community members affected by suicide. The four-week training pairs an online curriculum from LivingWorks Faith with weekly discussion sessions held via Zoom. Participants will discuss the approaches they learn in a pastoral context with peers in their region of the state.

LivingWorks Director of Faith Community Engagement Glen Bloomstrom will facilitate the training, along with several other LivingWorks team members.

The training for faith leaders in the northern half of Minnesota starts April 18, while the southern Minnesota training starts April 27. Enrollment is free but is limited to 40 participants, and pre-registration is required. Full details and registration can be found on Eventbrite:

This training builds on the MDA/MDH Suicide Prevention for Rural Faith Leaders conferences held in Bemidji and Mankato during the fall of 2022 and is partially underwritten by Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Program award #2021-70035461 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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