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Cultivating Hope in Caring Communities – Pine Grove Community Church

May 10, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Cultivating Hope in Caring Communities - Pine Grove Community Church
An innovative suicide prevention outreach practice developed at the Albany Stratton VA called Cultivating Hope in Caring Communities


Cultivating Hope in Caring Communities (CHCC) is an innovative and award-winning program that provides suicide prevention training and mental health resources to caring communities. This 2 hour event, provided in-person and/or virtually, is designed to reach faith-based clergy and laypeople, in addition to all Military Veteran and Service Member involved, interested, or minded community programs and individuals. After the event, participants are asked to further distribute the training resources (including videos, posters and wallet cards) widely in the community in order to reach, train and equip as many individuals as possible. This program is facilitated by a VA chaplain and a VA behavioral health expert, and it includes a Military Veteran speaker who shares his/her story of hope and recovery.

CHCC utilizes the instructive metaphor of a fire to explain the reasons why a Veteran may become suicidal and how alcohol can be an “accelerant” in a suicide crisis. The training also presents a comprehensive review of mental health warning signs that often reveal a mental crisis and potential risk for suicide, in addition to the “red flag” warning signs of suicide risk. The training uses the acronyms of SUN, SOIL and WATER to describe the steps of how “to cultivate seeds of hope” through conversation. In this powerful metaphor, the seeds represent the unmet emotional and spiritual needs that are revealed and addressed during the conversation.

CHCC addresses “how to start the conversation.” Often this is where the process breaks down for those concerned about their loved one — meaning it can be very difficult to know what to say to a loved one about his/her concerning mental health symptoms. It also addresses “when not to start the conversation” (e.g., when someone is drunk, angry or historically abusive). CHCC also addresses how to think about and address access to guns to reduce the risk of death due to “an impulsive act,” and gunlocks are distributed during the community training event and in follow-up upon request.

The training includes viewing an example of the SUN-SOIL-WATER conversation in the form of a vignette of loved one intervening with a struggling Veteran, and the vignettes of a male OIF Veteran, a Vietnam Era Vet, and a young female OND Vet are available as YouTube videos that can be shared.

While CHCC is organized to provide vital information, this program is also intentionally designed to instill confidence and empower trainees to carry out that important conversation with an individual who may be at risk for suicide, ultimately equipping them the tools to be successful in cultivating hope and linking that individual to needed support and services.



Pine Grove Community Church
59 Pine Road
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 United States
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