What is the current suicide and mental illness rate among JWs and previous members

by 060702015 28 Replies latest jw friends

  • 060702015

    There seems to be no current data on this information and there is questions concerning the validation of past data. Apparently there is high rate of mental illness and suicide


    Jehovahs Witnesses suicide rate 5 to 10 times above average


    Jehovah Witness Suicide By Christian Peper

    Authors note: If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Teenagers can call the Covenant House NineLine at: 1-800-999-9999. Cries for help should never be discounted or ignored.

    There is a long history of suicides within the Jehovah Witness Watchtower organization. Some experts have estimated the rate of suicides associated with the society to be five to ten times the rate of the general population. The exact number of suicides is impossible to obtain for a variety of reasons. Secular intuitions such as hospitals and police departments do not keep track of the religious organizations of the deceased. If institutions began to keep such records they would be accused of religious persecution. The American Psychiatric Association has moved towards a biological model of mental health. This causes non-biological causes of suicide to be discounted or ignored. The totalitarian Jehovah Witness Watchtower society knows of many suicides but will not admit guilt."

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    It would be good to find someone who has had the patience, interest qualifications and financial backing to investigate the state of mental health of JWs and ex-JWs. Unfortunately I don't think there is anyone likely to do this for the time being. The last one was an Australian study about fifty or sixty years ago I believe. I had a paediatrician tell me that in his experience that Jehovah's Witnesses exhibit a far higher rate of delusional disorders (psychosis) than found in the general population.

    There is probably a correspondency of people with mental problems looking towards religious belief generally as a solution to their difficulties because religion is a socially acceptable practice which deals with existential hope.

    The JW belief exaggerates the certainty of its teachings and dissolve the grey areas by a black and white definition of the world and its workings. By using only the governing body of JWs as the last word in everything a paternalistic agenda is asserted. For a confused or mentally fragile individual, this concept can make for a clearly defined path to follow.

    Unfortunately for all JWs; it leads nowhere in the end except a mental slavery and the GB have never got anything right.

  • KateWild

    Welcome to the board. Are you a JW? Are you depressed?

    Some of the threads here may help you through some struggles you may have.

    Welcome again

    Kate xx

  • Earnest

    There has been a recent 2015 study of the mental health of Jehovah's Witnesses which considered the rate of mental illness and severe depression among a group of 15,675 Witnesses from 15 different countries.

    The results are that the rate of mental illness (psychosis, including schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder) among JW is a little more than one third of the rate in the population as a whole, and the rate of severe depression is about one fifth of the rate in the population.

    The study also considered the rate of suicide in Norway over a 20-year period and found it to to be a little over a third of the rate in the population as a whole.

    This has just been published by the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism, Acta Comparanda, Subsidia III, June 2016 and an abstract can be found here.

  • 060702015

    Thank you everyone for your time.

    Ernest -- what is your opinion of the study you posted?

  • Watchtower-Free
  • LisaRose

    Rolf Furili was a lecturer in Semtic languages, at Oslo University and is a Jehovah's Witness, so this entire study is highly questionable. His chief claim to fame prior to this was defending the Watchtower's questionable fall of Babylon chronology, he is not an expert in the field of mental illness and he has an obvious bias. This is a shameful attempt by the Watchtower to hide their problem with Mental illness and suicide, they have shown in the past that they will use dishonest methods like this to prop up their beliefs.

    From / Wikipedia

    Furuli has attempted to defend the religious views of Jehovah's Witnesses—of which Furuli is a member[3]—including their view that Jerusalem was destroyed by theBabylonians in 607 BC rather than the broadly recognised dating of its destruction in 587 BC.[4]

    Also from Wikipedia

    In a 2004 issue of Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Lester L. Grabbe, professor of theology at the University of Hull, said of Furuli's study: "Once again we have an amateur who wants to rewrite scholarship. ... F. shows little evidence of having put his theories to the test with specialists in Mesopotamian astronomy and Persian history."[5]
  • Earnest

    060702015 -

    The study I posted was made by a Witness by the name of Rolf Furuli. He does have academic credentials as he was a lecturer in Semitic languages at the University of Oslo until 2011. He makes the point that it is not easy to make a balanced scholarly study of the mental health of Jehovah's Witnesses, or indeed of any group which contrasts itself with the rest of society. Such a group would be reluctant to give information to "outsiders" who they suspect might use the information against them. So in that respect I think he is in a better position than many others to obtain the data from the congregations as there would be confidence it would not be used malevolently.

    He does address the issue of bias and says that to minimise bias the congregations that were studied were chosen at random. He says that in the case of countries outside of Norway he chose congregations where he happens to know at least one of the elders but not the mental health of the members. This amounted to a total of 74 congregations - 35 from Norway, 24 from the United States and 15 in thirteen other countries.

    My opinion then is that his figures are almost certainly accurate for Norway but there is probably not a sufficient sampling to extrapolate that for the rest of the world. However, for the moment I think it is one of the more complete studies of the subject that has been made.

    He goes into some depth on the study by Jerry Bergman and several other studies on the subject. And in many respects I think his study is in response to the publicity that Jerry Bergman's study in particular has had. While the subject of mental health among Jehovah's Witnesses will always have bias of one sort or another I think that Furuli's study is more reliable than those others.

    I do not know of any study carried out on the mental health of ex-Witnesses and have no idea how that could be done with any reliability.

    @ LisaRose

    Furuli is not an expert in the field of mental illness but to obtain the statistics you do not need to be. The figures he provides are based on how many members in the congregations he contacted have had mental illness or severe depression. The criterion for mental illness and depression was that the person had been admitted to a mental hospital or had been treated by a psychiatrist. That is an objective criterion and you do not need to understand mental illness to reach the conclusions he did.

  • LisaRose
    do not know of any study carried out on the mental health of ex-Witnesses and have no idea how that could be done with any reliability.

    Exactly. Which is why Rolf's study is less than worthless.

    Picking congregations at random does not make up for the obvious bias of the person doing the study. Being a lecturer in Semitic studies does not qualify you to do a study on mental health, it's frankly laughable. He may mean well but what are his credentials in mental health? What are his credentials in statistical analysis? Was this even peer reviewed?

    You are talking about a religion where it is not acceptable to be unhappy, much less admit to mental illness, so how accurate could any casual study actually be? And in a religion that disfellowships people for bad conduct, how meaningful is any one time study anyway? Anyone seriously mentally ill will soon get disfellowshipped, which is going to skew the results. You would have to do a long term study from birth to determine how many actually became mentally ill, which I doubt was done here.

    I don't even know how he got this published. It would be very interested to know how that happened.

  • LisaRose

    As an example, my daughter was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She began to have mental health issues by age fourteen and so wasn't qualified for baptism, if she had been baptized she would have been disfellowshipped for suicide attempts. She would not have counted in any statistical study of the congregation, they could say they didn't have any mentally ill in the congregation and been truthful, but their practices make that kind of statistical analysis meaningless.

    As another example, I knew of a Jehovah's Witnesses who began hearing voices, a sign of schizophrenia. He was disfellowshipped, as they assumed he was demonized.

    The study is meaningless because they shoot their wounded.

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