Helping With the Hurt

Date posted: Thursday 11 November 2021

COVID-19 has disrupted nearly everything in the past two years, including the ways in which our congregation, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, ministers to those who are hurting from terrible tragedies and everyday losses.


At St. Michael's in Roseville, our BeFriender ministry is one avenue through which we try to connect people with each other. Our BeFrienders have been trained to sit with and be with people who need a caring presence. The four foundation principles of BeFriending have a profound impact on those we serve:

  1. God is present
  2. Caring, not curing
  3. Nonjudgmental presence
  4. Active listening


As we continued to adapt to COVID disruptions and the changing needs of our congregation, our team realized that we should take advantage of continuing education opportunities to expand our community care. St. Michael’s was fortunate to receive a grant from the Saint Paul Area Synod so our BeFrienders team and clergy could participate in a virtual Suicide Prevention Awareness class with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).


Suicide touches many of us in profound ways and we were able to learn some valuable lessons in this QPR training. By allowing ourselves to Question, Persuade and Refer, we may be able to offer hope through positive action. NAMI provided many resources, including techniques to overcome our own emotional reactions that can hinder communication.


QPR for Suicide Prevention (

  • Question the person about suicide. Do they have thoughts? Feelings? Plans? Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t wait. If you can’t ask, find someone who can.
  • Persuade the person to get help. Listen carefully. Then say, “Let me help.” Or, “Come with me to find help.”
  • Refer for help. If a child or adolescent, contact an adult. Those who can help include a parent, minister, rabbi, tribal elder, a teacher, coach or counselor. Community resources may include a doctor, therapist, crisis hotline, county crisis response team, or hospital emergency room (preferably with a psychiatric unit). If you need to call 911, tell the dispatcher that this is a mental health emergency so that a specially trained officer can be sent.


The foundation principles of BeFriending that we use are a strong base for the knowledge we received from NAMI. The grant also supplied us every member of our team with a small resource stipend to seek out books or other materials to deepen our individual understanding of mental illness and community care. We are grateful for the resources and opportunities for learning available in our community. We are thankful for the national BeFriender Ministry and the specific grant from the Saint Paul Area Synod used to connect with NAMI.


The more we learn from and collaborate with our neighbors in our community, the stronger our ministries will be in providing faith and hope to those who suffer and are lonely.


Ruth Petersen and Chuck Hanson

Co-leaders of BeFrienders

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Roseville


Click here for more information about the synod's mental health grants.