When Suicide Comes to Church: Pastoral care approaches

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St Andrews on the Terrance Conference Centre

30 The Terrace

Wellington, Wellington 6011

New Zealand

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Refund Policy

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

Sales Have Ended

Registrations are closed
Registration for the workshop has closed. To check if there are still vacancies, please contact the organiser directly.
Event description
Pastoral care approaches of working with suicidal people and those bereaved by suicide.

About this Event

The impact of suicide on family and communities including communities of faith can be devastating. So how do faith communities respond when suicide comes to church. This response is not only in providing pastoral care to those bereaved by suicide but also to those experiencing mental illness, psychological distress, trauma or suicidality. Faith communities also have a role to play in promoting wellbeing and participating in community-based suicide prevention initiatives.

This faith communities focused workshop is specifically designed for faith leaders who have pastoral ministries such as clergy, chaplains, lay preachers, youth ministers, and pastoral care workers. It provides an opportunity for participants to:

  • reflect on suicide from their faith perspective
  • identify how faith and spirituality can contribute to positive mental wellbeing of those they minister to
  • address mental illness, trauma and suicidality in their pastoral care work
  • depth their understanding of how funeral rites impact on suicide contagion and grief process of those bereaved by suicide
  • update their understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental wellbeing and faith.

The sensitive issue of suicide among victims of institutional or clergy abuse and its impact of families and faith communities will also be covered.

Studies have shown the 85% of clergy know that helping people in a suicide crisis is part of their responsibility, but they don’t know what to do. When faced with engaging with someone they are worried about, it is essential that faith leaders ensure that their pastoral counselling skills includes knowledge and skills to identify someone in an emerging suicide crisis and to competently respond to the crisis.

From a suicide prevention standpoint, faith communities can foster compassion and support for people who are experiencing hardship, and can use theological reflection to help people make meaning, especially understanding of suffering and despair. They can also work closely with mental health organisations in the community to build bridges and increase their mental health and suicide prevention literacy.

Faith community leaders are often first responders after a suicide death. How they support a highly traumatised and confused family through their grief journey or facilitate a funeral service that both honours the life that was lived without shying away from the tragedy of suicide can have an enduring impact on the recovery of those bereaved. While many families experience compassionate and supportive pastoral care, others have felt compounded shame and guilt, experiencing additional layers of unresolved grief because of how faith leaders have spoken about the suicide.

Should a suicide impact a faith community, faith leaders are often called upon to conduct funeral services and ofter pastoral care, and so, would benefit greatly from understanding suicide grief and trauma and best practices in safe and effective messaging. With the increasing number of people dying by suicide, especially in young people, concern has been expressed about the potential risk in tangis and funerals of glorifying suicide which could lead to further suicides. This workshop will examine these issues of concern and to ensure that the ritual or the cultural practices honour the person without glorifying the way the person died. The sensitive issues of observing cultural funeral rituals (tikanga) and their concern of not glorifying suicide, especially in their tamariki will also be covered.

Faith beliefs are sometimes shattered in the aftermath of suicide, and anger at God is not uncommon. The implications of past and current theological and dogmatic teachings on suicide when working with suicidal people or those bereaved by suicide will be explored.

Topics covered:

  • Suicide and religion: The role of religion as suicide risk and protective factors
  • Salvation or damnation: the implications of theological and dogmatic teachings of suicide on pastoral care approaches.
  • Common language: forgiveness, redemption, compassion, hope and despair - the intersection of a religion and mental wellbeing
  • Impact of suicide on a faith community
  • Institution and clergy abuse associated suicide
  • An overview of the issues for those bereaved by suicide and how the tangi or funeral service helps
  • The stigma of suicide and mental illness
  • The funeral of someone who has died by suicide - Why the concern?
  • Mitigating against the potential for suicide contagion
  • The role of the tangi or funeral service in community debriefing after a suicide
  • Ways to discuss / address the topic of suicide in a funeral - helpful and unhelpful messages
  • Working with the family in preparing the funeral
  • Honouring not glorifying - how to manage the tension between the two and why it is important

What other participants have said about this workshop

“Barry’s depth of understanding of faith and spirituality made this workshop not only relevant but deeply enriched my ministry”. Parish Priest

“An inspiring workshop which gave me many powerful insights into those who are in pain or are grieving” Chaplain




Barry has proven leadership over 30 years at local, national and international levels in using community initiatives and strength-based approaches to improve individual and community wellbeing and the prevention of suicide. He has extensive experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes at the local and national level, especially creating collaborative partnerships to prevent or respond to suicide.

Barry will draw upon his extensive experience working with people and communities affected by suicide, his leadership in the loss and grief sector and as a funeral celebrant.  He has worked in the ecumenical movemnt and participated in inter-faith dialogues and has an interested in the role of faith and spirituality in positive mental wellbeing and how religion can be both a risk and protective factor to suicide.

His international experience includes being the State President of National Association for Loss & Grief (Victoria) and convenor of the Victorian Loss & Grief Practitioners Accreditation Board. He developed and delivered nationally a certificate training programme for the Australian funeral industry on loss and grief and has 26 years’ experience as a funeral celebrant. He has lectured at theological colleges and training programmes for funeral celebrants on the role of ritual in grief processes and the pastoral care needs of those bereaved by suicide. 

He has extensive experience in suicide postvention guiding numerous communities, schools, universities, workplaces and mental health organisations through the aftermath of a suicide as well as providing support to those bereaved by suicide. He is a member of the Clusters and Contagion in Suicidal Behaviour and the Suicide Postvention and Bereavement Special Interest Groups of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

He has advised governments on effective postvention strategies and provided guidance for schools in both New Zealand and Australia. In 1990 he wrote the first postvention guidelines for New Zealand schools, In a Time of Crisis. In 2007 he developed the Wellington Regional Postvention Response, a whole of community response aimed at preventing suicide contagion and ensuring appropriate support to the bereaved. He has a particular interest in the rise of intergenerational suicide in whānau and hapū, especially in men.

After a number of years overseas, Barry is living back in New Zealand and is passionate about building the knowledge base, competence and capability within our country to effectively respond to the unacceptably high rate of suicide in this country.



Minimum Number of Participants:  10       Maximum Number of Participants:  30

Places in each workshop are limited. If the workshop is full please register your name on the waitlist. 

Payment:  Payment is by either Visa or Mastercard.  

Organisations can request to pay by invoice. At the payment method part of the registration process click on Change and select Pay By Invoice

Terms for Payment By Invoice

Payment by Invoice is only for NGOs, Government Departments, DHBs, PHOs, Schools and tertiary organisations, businesses.

By selecting Pay By Invoice the organisation agrees to the following conditions:

1.  Your place in the workshop is not confirmed until payment has been received. Payment of the invoice must be made within seven days of registering to avoid having your registration cancelled. Late payment fees apply.

2.  Please IGNORE the invoice from Eventbrite. A NZ tax compliant Tax Invoice from TaylorMade Training and Consulting will be sent to you separately which will contain bank details for payment.  

3.  By registering for the workshop, you agree to the cancellation and policy. (refer below).  Organisations who cancel within seven days of the workshop and have not paid the invoice for the outstanding registration fee are still obligated to pay the outstanding debt.

Catering:This workshop is fully catered. Please indicate in the registration process if you have any particular dietary requirements.  If you register after the registration closing date, while every effort will be made, your dietary requirements may not be able to be catered.

Scholarships: There is a limited number of partial and full scholarships for those wishing to attend the workshop. Full scholarships are available for mental health consumers, carers and volunteers. Partial scholarships of either 25% or 50%  off the registration fee are available for full time tertiary students in health, social service and disability related courses. Further information and how to apply for a scholarship is available on the TaylorMade website.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Workshops can fill quickly. If you are no longer able to attend the workshop please cancel your registration as soon as possible. The following refund policy is strictly adhered to.

Cancellation up to seven days prior to the commencement of the workshop:  Full Refund less $30 + GST admin feeCancellation within seven days prior to the commencement of the workshop:No refund but registration can be transferred to another person. To transfer your registration log on to your registration and update the name and contact details to the new person attending.No show on the day of workshop:   No refund 

Cancellation of Workshop by TaylorMade: TaylorMade Training and Consulting (TMTC) reserve the right to cancel the workshop if there are not the minimum number of registrations. If cancelled, participants will be offered a refund either by way of a credit to attend another TMTC workshop (within 12 months of the cancelled workshop) or full refund of their registration fee.  Refunds will made by electronic transfer into a bank account specified by the participant. TMTC accept no responsibility for any other costs incurred by participant as a result of a workshop cancellation. 


The information provided in the workshop handout notes and at the workshops are the views of the trainer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TaylorMade Training and Consulting. The information and professional advice delivered in the workshop and the associated printed material is provided solely on the basis that before relying on this material, participants should obtain appropriate advice relevant to their particular circumstance to evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes. TaylorMade Training and Consulting will not be liable for any damages of any kind to any person or entity arising from the use of this information. Your attendance at this workshop reflects your acceptance of this statement.

Organiser Contact Details

Barry Taylor

Principal Consultant - TaylorMade Training and Consulting


Office:      04 905 6145 Mobile:    022 104 5060


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St Andrews on the Terrance Conference Centre

30 The Terrace

Wellington, Wellington 6011

New Zealand

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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