The Power of Prayer: Suicide Prevention Toolkit
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According to recent studies, more than 55% of Americans pray every day. While the goal may differ from person to person, some scientists believe that praying can actually make a difference in your everyday health and wellbeing. For example, prayer may offer relief from suicidal thoughts or help one to cope on a particularly difficult day. This toolkit serves as a guide to using the power of prayer in suicide prevention and offers resources for further help and learning.
Where to Start
There are various types of prayer, and the type you use will depend on what you are asking for or communicating about; for instance, asking for something for yourself or for others, communing with God, or repeating a prayer over and over in the hopes that it is heard. Studies have shown that anyone who commits to daily prayer can see a boost in mood, a reduction in stress and anxiety, and the ability to cope with problems. All of these benefits will aid you in dealing with the daily mental and physical effects of depression, and give you a positive outlet in which to deal with your thoughts and emotions.
You don’t have to be religious to pray, but if you aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few suggestions to get you on the right path:
- Find a prayer to recite daily
- Pray in the moment
- Talk with a pastor or religious person
- Consider pastoral counseling
How Prayer Can Help
If you are having suicidal thoughts or have made an attempt, you may be struggling to find relief. The following are ways that prayer can equip you with the right tools to cope:
Boost Your Mood
Studies have shown that prayer can boost your mood and make you happier, but it can also give you a sense of inner peace and calm that reduces stress and anxiety and keeps your emotions in check. “My prayer life and relationship with God keep me grounded and give me a sense of peace, hope, and gratitude in my heart. If one can’t look inside oneself and beyond oneself, there is a piece missing to complete the healthy self,” says Tiffanie Lyon, an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church.
Gain Social Support
Praying in a group setting–such as with a church group or close circle of like-minded friends–can create lasting bonds and relationships that offer support during difficult times. Belonging to a church and its programs–the choir, for instance, can also help those who feel they need a support system.
Deal With Big Life Changes
Prayer is also often used when people are going through a significant period. Those periods can be times of joy such as having a baby or getting married, or periods of great struggle such as battling suicidal thoughts or other mental health disorders. Prayer can make these times easier to handle.
Pair Prayer With Helpful Reading
Prayer can be used as tool on its own or paired with helpful scripture readings to keep you positive and uplifted. Consider reading some of these verses when you need a little extra empowerment:
- Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Psalm 34:17 – “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
- Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide or have made an attempt, remember that there are healthy and positive ways to cope. Through prayer and a supportive network, you can face this challenge head on and tap into a source of empowerment and strength that has been within you all along.
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