The Rev. Talitha Arnold was just 2 years old when her father, a World War II veteran, took his own life.
"You just didn't talk about those things back then. We didn't even talk about suicide when I was in the seminary," says Arnold, who leads the United Church of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
Then, when the wife of one of her divinity school professors killed herself and no one muttered a word about it during the service, Arnold says she was appalled. "I was sitting there thinking, 'This was nuts. Why can't you name it?' " That was almost 40 years ago.
In the United States alone, someone dies by suicide once every 13 minutes. For the longest time, there was a cloak of secrecy about the details of a death by suicide, but talking about suicide may be the best hope for stopping it, according to researchers.
Until recently, many religious leaders were not well-prepared to talk about suicide with their congregants. Now some clergy have become an important part of suicide prevention.
"Where there's faith, there's hope, and where there's hope, there's life," says David Litts, co-leader of the Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Arnold also leads that task force. "If someone dies from heart disease, for instance, or in an accident, they may wonder where God is, but when someone dies by suicide, a whole lot of other questions get raised," she says. "When you can't talk about this in church, then it feels like God can't talk about it either."