RYM 012: Navigating Mental Health and Suicide In Your Ministry

There’s never been a time when mental health and suicide have been talked about more in culture than right now. And with teen suicide trends on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to address this issue in our ministries. On this episode, join ministry leaders for a conversation with licensed associate professional counselor, Kayla Lin. They’ll discuss how to navigate the topics of mental health and suicide in your ministry, what to do when a student displays signs of suicidal ideation or shares they’ve had suicidal thoughts, and how you as a ministry leader can lead through the tragedy of student suicide.

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There hasn’t been another time when mental health has been talked about more. (3:00)

When a student shares that they are thinking about suicide, freak out on the inside and stay calm on the outside. (4:30)

What are some things that are helpful for ministry leaders and volunteers to be on the lookout for when it comes to suicide ideation? (6:00)

If a student is showing up less often, is less engaged, or are not hanging out with their friends, they might be showing signs of isolation. (7:00)

When we see a student struggling with signs of suicidal ideation, check in with them. Ask if they’ve ever thought about hurting themselves. (9:00)

If a student has expressed that they’ve thought of hurting themselves, ask them what their plan would be to hurt themselves. (9:30)

When somebody tells you something heavy, say, “I’m so glad that you told me.” (10:00)

By asking questions, it shows students that you are taking them seriously and that you care. (10:30)

SAL: Suicidal Ideation. Accessibility to their plan. Lethality. (11:30)

What do you do when a student doesn’t want you to tell anyone what they’ve told you? (12:45)

Respond with: “I want to help you, but I think that the only way I know how to help you is to get your parent or a professional involved.” (13:30)

If a student expresses they are going to hurt themselves, hurt someone else, or are being hurt (also known as the “3 Hurts”), you can’t keep that information to yourself. (14:30)

Ask them, “Do you trust me to do what’s best for you?” (15:00)

Suicide rates increase around sixth grade, and begin to decrease around tenth grade, when students normally get their driver’s license. (19:00)

Continuously make mental health, self-harm, and suicide a part of the conversation, even if it is not the topic of a talk. (21:00)

Talk to other ministry leaders who have led through a student suicide in their ministry. (22:00)

If you know another youth pastor who is or has gone through a student suicide, reach out to them, encourage them, and pray for and with them. (24:00)

As a ministry leader leading students and volunteers through a suicide, find yourself a professional counselor and give yourself permission to grieve. (27:00)

You need an army of small group leaders to walk through a student suicide alongside your students. (31:30)

Ask yourself, “What do I need?” (32:30)

The most important thing we can do is come up with a plan for what to do when suicide does impact our students and our ministry. (35:15)

Allow yourself to personally grieve. Don’t ignore it. (36:00)

What do you do when the parent minimizes the signs of suicide ideation? (37:20)

Ask the parent: “At what point will you believe them?” (37:45)

The ministry of presence matters. (39:00)




Brett is an XP3 Orange Specialist with Orange after spending 11 years in full time ministry. He’s been married to his smoking hot wife since 2004. They have three amazing and hilarious kids who constantly keep them busy and laughing. He loves baseball, golf and makes amazing turkey melt sandwiches (if he has the time and ingredients, otherwise they’re just average).



Kayla Lin is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia and a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a credential awarded by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She earned a Master of Education in Professional Counseling from the University of Georgia. Kayla specializes in helping clients who are suffering with trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, identity, grief/loss, and self-worth. Outside of counseling, Kayla enjoys hiking/backpacking, riding horses, baking home goods, and spending time with her friends, family, and her two dogs.



Crystal currently leads the XP3 High School initiative at Orange. Before that, she spent 10 years as a high school teacher and student ministry leader, doing everything from leading small groups to speaking to curriculum design. Crystal and her husband, Tom, live in Alpharetta, GA with an ill-tempered chihuahua named Javier.



Ashley Bohinc serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange, co-host of The Think Orange Podcast, and co-author of The Art of Group Talk. She’s worked with students in public education, athletic, and ministry settings since 2005. Ashley is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating onstage, developing leaders, working with students, and engaging in world missions. Additionally, she’s the USA Director of Carry 117. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

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Orange Conference 2018