MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, along with Marquette’s Messiah Lutheran Church and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention will host a day long workshop on suicide prevention this Friday. The seminar will be produced by “Soul Shop“, a recognized leader in suicide prevention nationwide.

Soul Shop is an organization that educates and equips church leaders and it’s members to recognize the early warning signs of suicidal thinking. The workshop will show how a church community can provide valuable resources to those impacted by suicide.

“People die by suicide for lots of reasons, but basically it comes down to a loss of hope and a loss of social connection,” said Marna Franson, a missioner with the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. “What I love about soul shops so much is that it is a day of putting everything aside and having a conversation about who can we be that can stop this epidemic of suicide. It’s an epidemic”

Franson said Soul Shop is really about culture change.

“It’s about being courageous in our conversations and destigmatizing all the things. I’ve raised three sons, and I am noticing how society is tough on men to say when they’re in trouble, because of all the social expectations around that. But if we can begin to be courageous with one another in conversation, and destigmatize things like stress or financial trouble, or I feel awful, or I hate my job, or I’m worn out or I just got a divorce, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do about that. Or once we begin to get courageous about those conversations, then the community can gather around those things and say, Well, okay, well, let’s figure out what you’re going to do after retirement or let’s figure out what we’re going to do during a divorce time. That’s hard. We can begin by talking about it in our congregations. It’s okay to be sad. Doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a man or a woman, transgender, it doesn’t matter. Just be sad if you’re sad, you know?” added Franson.

Franson said Soul Shop is for everyone. You don’t have to be a pastor at a church. You could be a parent and be concerned about your children. She said it is open to all leaders who are ready or curious about having those courageous conversations.

There’s a line that we say in in Soul Shop. That is very powerful, and it’s this, If you can say the word suicide in a sentence, you can save a life. And what’s true about that is that if you have a person in front of you, and you think they’re in trouble if you can say hey, people in your situation, sometimes consider suicide. Are you considering suicide? That’s a moment where that life can be saved. So if you can say the word suicide in a sentence, it’s possible for you to save a life.

Doors open at 8am running till 4pm at The Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette on Friday.