Teaching Clergy, Counselors and Lay People Suicide Prevention Techniques

Soul Shop

Several years ago, Barbara Saulpaugh survived an 18-month battle with severe depression.

Today, Saulpaugh is the regional director of CareNet, the counseling network affiliated with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. CareNet is the largest hospital-based program of its kind in the nation.

While at a conference several months ago, Saulpaugh heard about a suicide prevention program called “Soul Shop.™” The program was started by a longtime minister after three students in his community died by suicide in a seven-month period.

In the aftermath of those deaths, Rev. Russ Crabtree, MDiv, created Soul Shop to help clergy, church leaders and lay people detect signs of someone contemplating suicide. His seminar also educates church leaders about ministering to family members after a suicide.

Saulpaugh believed offering Soul Shop would be particularly relevant for CareNet, which provides faith-integrated counseling and behavioral health services. She connected with Northwest AHEC, a program of Wake Forest School of Medicine that provides continuing education opportunities for health professionals, to support a series of Soul Shop seminars in the region.

Daylong Soul Shop training sessions were held in Mount Airy, Mocksville, Kernersville and Winston-Salem in April. Dozens of pastors, lay people, and CareNet counselors and psychotherapists participated.

Soul Shop helped participants develop the level of comfort required to speak with those feeling desperate in a respectful and life-affirming manner. It also addressed—with specific and practical ideas—ways the faith community could confront the silence and fear that often surrounds suicide.

Saulpaugh says she recovered from her own bout with depression thanks to, “help from my graceful God, counselors who gave me hope, family support and a good physician.”

“This is something really close to my heart,’’ Saulpaugh says. “Having been one of those people who felt helpless and desperate, this training is an intersection of my personal passion about the subject, the work of CareNet and my love for the community.’’

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