Engaging Rural Ministry in Suicide Prevention

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $54,780.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Meg Moynihan
Minnesota Department of Agriculture


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: other
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    For at least 20 years, rural residents in the United States have been more likely than metropolitan dwellers to die by suicide; farmers and other farm-connected people are consistently one of the groups at highest risk.  Suicide is preventable and this project will engage and train rural clergy from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin in a comprehensive, skills-based approach to suicide prevention. Many farmers and rural residents have generational relationships with their churches – through faith, community, or both – and regard faith leaders as safe, wise, and trustworthy confidants. However, clergy typically receive little training about suicide in seminary and many are eager to increase the competency in both prevention and bereavement support. The effort builds on previous work funded by NCR-SARE to train agricultural advisors in suicide prevention skills. We are currently piloting the approach that we propose to use in this project with two cohorts of interfaith clergy in Northern and Southern Minnesota.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    120 faith leaders, affiliated with various denominations, from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, trained in LivingWorks Faith program and:

    • Informed by stories, and guidance from over a dozen clergy and people with lived experience of suicide,
    • Able to engage people currently thinking about suicide and connect them to help.
    • Knowledgeable about provide pastoral care to bereaved people following a suicide.
    • Motivated to engage their home communities suicide prevention

    60 faith leaders affiliated with various denominations, from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, who are trained in ASIST and:

    • Prepared to identify and respond to or intervene with people at immediate risk of suicide
    • Practiced in general counseling and listening skills to seek a shared understanding of reasons for dying and living
    • Able to create a safety plan with the person at risk
    • Knowledgeable about community resources and able connect the person at risk of suicide to appropriate support
    • Prepared to recognize other important aspects of suicide prevention including life-promotion and self-care.

    10 faith leaders, affiliated with various denominations, from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin who have completed a Training for Trainers (T4t) and are certified to facilitate safeTALK suicide prevention training to other members of their domination as well as in their own rural communities.

    2 updated wraparound modules/contextualization for the safeTALK suicide prevention curriculum (agriculture and faith) used in T4T and provided to the new trainers for their use in communities.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.