There is a surge in attempted suicide in the Mangochi district of the Diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi, and the church marginalizes those who die by suicide, those who attempt it, and their grieving families. The Rev. Canon Will Madi dreamed of restoring life, hope and the love of God through Jesus Christ to individuals thinking of committing suicide, by training religious leaders to identify suicide with mental health and to offer pastoral care to those who are at risk for suicide, and the grieving families of suicide victims.
He collaborated with a mental health professional from the Youth Net and Counseling Organization. She facilitated training around depression as a mental illness and suicide as an expression of that illness, reasons people commit suicide, signs that someone is suicidal and how to get them to treatment. She issued a strong call to the church leaders to be at the forefront of suicide prevention in Malawi.
Canon Madi followed with discussion around the church’s role in preaching the good news of God’s restorative love to survivors of attempted suicide, and to the bereaved families of suicide victims. The group pledged to preach and teach about suicide, to be available for counselling, to refer people for help, and to offer Christian burial and pastoral care for families.
He and two other leaders then conducted a two-day campaign from the back of a truck, preaching the same message in the community in two languages. The local police have asked him to work with them to teach the village headmen the principles covered with the religious leaders.