POP QUIZ: You're An Elder, And A Sister Has Suicidal Thoughts...

by pale.emperor 22 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • longgone

    I saw this video earlier this year during the Service Meeting. I can't even express how distraught I was watching it. It was one of the final straws leading me out the door, permanently.

    An additional danger I would think, is that was viewed by the rank and file who may think this is the way to " help" another brother or sister who may confide in them!

    I decided to call Brooklyn to express how seriously wrong and dangerous it was after a few days. I just couldn't stop thinking about what could very well happen if this was a real life situation. Had my family not taken me to a hospital when I was in a very similar situation many years ago, as the saying goes, I may not be here writing this post.

    After I expressed my concerns, I got the non-committal run around for quite some time. I continued to press the point until finally the brother acknowledged that "I had a point."

    Of course that means nothing, I can't understand why NOBODY involved in producing this rubbish had the sense to point out how wrong and dangerous their " training'" is.

    Any suicidal idealisation must be taken seriously, and when someone is to the point of having a plan and actually voicing it, immediate help should be arranged.

    How can this organization legally get away with this? Shouldn't they be held accountable? Could the video be made available to mental health professionals? Would they be able to do anything to prevent this information from doing real harm?

  • steve2

    longgone, you make complete sense and speak in a compelling way. I totally agree. If anyone could have given the branch reason to really think through the potential danger of the video it would be you. I consider it amazing that they even acknowledged you had a point!

    The "trouble" is that JWs are in "good" company with this "spiritual" approach to responding to suicidal believers. Fundamentalist groups in general take a similar approach: Study and pray the depression away. Turn to the very "god" you feel alienated from, etc.

    As a Clinical Psychologist working with a wide range of severely depressed individuals I recognize too readily the religiously troubled client who is "trapped" in an unhealthy belief system that - directly or indirectly - blames the individual for their depressed spirit. It is heart-breaking to assess these clients - from all sorts of religious backgrounds and persuasions - who are in such pain and turmoil made worse by their leaders' preaching manner. For me, I am super aware that an ideal solution is for the individual to get away from their unhealthy belief systems - but obviously, when it comes to individual's religious beliefs, I could not ethically advocate they do this. Besides, for some poor souls, better the devil they know than the one they don't. I can think of religiously troubled and depressed individuals who have left their belief systems then felt wracked with fear and guilt and ended up even worse psychologically.

    It is a complex issue - but I so identify with your reaction to this atrociously misguided video.

  • stuckinarut2

    This is one of the most disturbing pieces of film the society has ever produced!

    The glaring lack of "duty of care" they have employed is bordering on reprehensible and is potentially "bloodguilty"!

    By failing to assist that sister to get PROFFESIONAL help, they have facilitated her suffering and subsequent actions! By all means give "spiritual comfort" , but then help ensure that she also gets professional help!

    Sick, negligent and callous is just a small way to describe this.

    Also the arrogance of thinking that they as elders have the skills to assist someone in this state is deplorable!

    And they make her feel even more guilty by getting her to repeat sayings like "it would be sinful to carry out such an act"!!?? What?? A person in this state does NOT need to be made to feel even more guilt.


    Some studies say that women are more likely to be depressed, but men are more likely to go undiagnosed. In JW Land, I believe men have a more likely chance of becoming depressed than women, due to the fact that a woman can be a mother, and not "reach out", with virtually zero judgment concerning her "spirituality."

    Try being a JW male, not pioneering, not "reaching out", not "being used" because you "don't qualify", then you will know what depression is. You will feel the weight of EVERYONE wondering what is "wrong" with you, and what "secret sin" prevents "God" from viewing you as worthy.


  • LongHairGal


    The sarcasm in your post made me laugh, even though that was not your intention. The topic is gravely serious.

    No religion has any business advising people about mental health issues...They should advise them to seek immediate professional help and/or possibly admit themselves to a hospital.

    The average person might be a little afraid if they were faced with a person talking suicide. But, yet one of the "brothers" thinks he can take out a bible and Voila, problem solved???

    This is what lack of higher education can do, along with a delusional sense of self-importance. I'm not saying that just having a college education will give infinite wisdom. It's just that a person with higher education will know when they are out of their depth - especially when confronted with a poor soul who is suicidal.

  • Island Man
    Island Man

    d) You ask her to show you her aquarium.

  • Vidiot

    Trying to "pray away" depression just about guarantees depression's victory.

    I find it interesting that, of all the forms of successful counseling out there that I've seen, none of them involve scripture-quoting.

  • Simon Templar
    Simon Templar

    This happened in our congregation. A mentally infirm sister became very distressed, and said that was considering suicide. The COBE at the time was a bethelite. He tried to disfellowship her. This still bothers me.

  • blondie

    Simon, suicide is no longer a df'ing offense. It was in times gone by, that is one of the flipped doctrines of the WTS. Many jws including elders miss those adjustments or think that the elder knows better than the WTS.

    The word "SUICIDE" occurs only six times in the "Shepherd the Flock of God" book. Of these, four occurrences are in the text, the first one is in the Table of Contents and the last is in the index.

    In the text they are found at:


    • attempted 5:4 (p. 59)
      • Attempted suicide may be the result of deep despair or major depression. Deal carefully and compassionately with such a person. In most cases a judicial hearing is not required. - Ps. 88:3, 17; Prov. 15:13; Eccl. 7:7; w90 3/1 pp. 5-9; 3/15 pp. 26-30; g90 9/8 pp. 22-23; w83 8/1 pp. 3-11.
    • threatened 6:16 (p. 86)
      • If the Accused Threatens Suicide - In judicial cases where the accused threatens suicide, it may be best for the committee to suspend the hearing to focus on helping him regain his balance. (see 7:12) They should assure him of the committee's desire to help him, then broach the subject of depression and suicide, using the Scriptures and Bible-based publications. (Prov. 3:11, 12; 4:13; Heb. 12:5, 6, 11-13) Depending upon his emotional state, it may be best to do this a day or two later. The elders can prepare by reviewing articles that will help them deal sensitively with the depressed individual. (w00 9/15 pp. 3-7; w88 10/15 pp. 25-29; 11/15 pp. 21-24; w82 6/1 pp. 9-14) The judicial committee should avoid prolonging the case unnecessarily, as this can cause stress for the accused. They should take notes for the confidential file, outlining the dates of their conversations and the scriptures and articles that were considered. They should sign it and place it in the file for the case. The judicial committee should communicate with the branch office if there are questions about a certain case.
    • Note, I underlined and bolded the word "suicide" above the make it easier to find. The emphasis is not in the original.
  • jeanniebeanzz

    I could only tell you what they told me, but it would make you throw up... also resulted in grave consequences. These people have no idea what they are doing.

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