Suicide Prevention a ministry gaining seminary status

March 22, 2007

A major step in bringing the vast resources of religious groups to bear on the task of suicide prevention has been launched by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.  Beginning with the 2007 fall semester, Wesley will offer a six-course certificate program in Suicide Awareness Ministry.


Faith-based communities can play an essential role in suicide prevention. That reality becomes increasingly clear as suicides have reached 30,000 a year, with nearly one million suicide attempts.


"We are convinced that laity, clergy and non-professionals working in suicide prevention can be trained to create teams within each local congregation," said Professor Susan Willhauck, Director of the Equipping Lay Ministry program at Wesley. She added, "Washington is an excellent location for the studies to take place. Over a dozen organizations in the area are at work on various phases of research, clinical, pastoral care and advocacy related to suicide prevention."


Students will have the opportunity to learn directly from members of these groups as they probe biblical, historical, theological and ethical perspectives. They will also become better informed about their own community's stand on suicide.


Among the program planners and instructors is Dr. James T. Clemons, author of “What does the Bible say about Suicide?” and editor of Sermons on Suicide. He is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Wesley, where he taught for 28 years.


Details, Application and Registration on the Equipping Lay Ministry Program are at For more information about the certificate program contact Sula Tyler at 202-885-8720 or