why jw's commit suicide?
there are lots of different ways of looking at this subject and notalone is free to choose which ones he may find provide him with reassurance and a way to move past his jw background. For example my contention is that suicide is lower amongst Jehovah's witnesses than the general population in that it is generally lower in religion even in fundamentalist religion. pls see map and WHO comments above. so the question is what is it about life that makes religious things necessary even in affluent secular nations.
secondly there is a dire need for mental illness to lose its stigmatisation and for research to address what imaginative and creative things such phenomena open onto.As I have already mentioned many creative people have what people would describe as "mental illness".
thirdly there are techniques such as mindfulness (see faulkner's article above. this is the article that links to Hasan's BITE model) that can help one break out of cycles of repetitive words etc.
fourthly I am not arguing that suicide and mental illness are absent among Jehovahs witnesses just that it is lower. one reason for this is I have suggested is Iannaconne's conclusion. Atran drawing on Iannaconne also brings something to the table on this.
None of this is meant to negate that individual suffering does not happen. It does. Indeed everyone who leaves is subjected to threats of losing one's family, intense guilt, dying at armageddon and the nagging feeling that they are missing something as Notalone says. Friedsen's abstract is itself illuminating. Faulkner's focus on buddhism and the phenomenology of having been a witness himself and his desire to form empathetic links with his patients refers back to Friedsen's points about the importance of this.
But yet I am convinced that suicide is lower among Jehovah's witnesses than the general population. indeed we have new evidence that suggests that three children in each classroom in the UK have diagnosable mental illness. this is another reason for mental illness to lose its stigma and to ask how religions help not so that people go back to religion but so that we find what may be missing in society. another question may ask why those who are more affluent do not end up having to give up their careers because of mental illness. they can afford the best help and regular visits to their counsellors and continue with their lives confident in their abilities to cope.
links here - Growing up unequal is an apt phrase and title I think
apart from the above Scott Atran's sources indicate that half of those who leave high control religions/cults return. I think jwfacts may need to take another look at his figures as I think he only allows for one third of those who leave returning to Jehovah's witnesses. indeed it seems that young people who leave return when they have children.
I haven't read all the posts on here, but from what I have read, it certainly has a lot to do with the fact that the JW community is very insular. Also the high standards that are expected create feelings of guilt and never being good enough.
When I first became a witness, after about the first year, I suffered terribly from what I would call very low mood.I even wished I was dead at that time.
Looking back I now realise it was a mixture of things. I dropped all my 'worldly' friends. I used to go out socialising every weekend as had many friends. I began drinking at home. After a year and a half, I fell into a bit of trouble for which I was privately reproved. Little did I Know back then I was marked. I was living on my own and as a young man I was never invited out by witnesses my own age despite the fact it was a large congregation. I felt so lonely and isolated. I mean can you imagine not going out at the weekends with any friends for well over a year. It truly sucked. That period of my life still angers me to this day.
It's only years later, knowing how Watchtower works, knowing their policies by means of the flock book and getting a full sense of their teachings that I realised I was part of a high control religious group.
I feel sorry for those experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Just live your life and be yourself. Don't let a group of men in their ivory tower pull you down. Stand up an be the person you should be.
jp1692 - "...the relevant part of Friedson's work is that a fundamentalist mindset can lead to extreme emotional distress..."
"Furuli asked congregation Elders to diagnose mental illnesses and then to report back to him..."...
"...his own data sometimes indicates that mental health issues are higher among JWs than among the general population."
Just imagine what objective research performed by qualified and unbiased professionals would bring to light.
I find it interesting that even when sincere, well-meaning fundamentalists go looking for evidence to support their worldview, all they seem to find is proof that said worldview is wrong.
Vidiot: I find it interesting that even when sincere, well-meaning fundamentalists go looking for evidence to support their worldview, all they seem to find is proof that said worldview is wrong.
And invariably they question the validity of the data rather than their own interpretation of it. Case in point!
UTC: it certainly has a lot to do with the fact that the JW community is very insular. Also the high standards that are expected create feelings of guilt and never being good enough.
Absolutely. Those psychological forces are very corrosive to one's soul and sense of self, particularly for the more sensitive among us.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience in this regard. It must have been very difficult for you when you had no friends in the congregation and none outside. This is of course one of the most basic ways that high-control groups manipulate and control individuals, by socially isolating them. It's very effective.
Psychologist David Myers gives us some context as to the level of emotional pain that being ostracized can cause when he explains: “Because of the human desire for connection, solitary confinement is, with the exception of torture, the worst punishment” possible (2014, p. 436). Social exclusion and shunning is a virtual prison without bars.
I especially appreciated your concluding words of encouragement, UTC: Live your life and be yourself.
Unfortunately, that can be a very difficult thing for many people to do, especially those raised in a cult because their individuality and authentic identity were rarely nurtured; indeed, they were often crushed.
If it was John Spencer's research in Australia that was being questioned by Furuli then it is important to note that in the British Journal of Psychiatry two individuals (one psychiatrist from the Maudsley hosp, Meyer, oct 1975, p.115) and an academic from Durham University, (Beckford oct 1975, p.114 ) pointed out flaws in his methodology and indicate why his findings cannot be trusted.
Another thing to watch out for re Spencer's research is the date 1975. At this time JWs were preaching the end so it is possible that as James Beckford (Durham University at the time) discusses that psychotics may have been identifying themselves as Jehovah's witnesses when they had no affiliation with the group. He criticises the hospital staff for taking the word of people who were in the throes of a psychotic breakdown and criticises John Spenser for not checking out these details before publishing his material. It would have been very easy for John Spenser to check if these individuals were really JWs. (Beckford, October 1975, p. 114)
James Beckford shares a similar view to mine that Jehovah's witnesses would not have allowed schizophrenics to remain in the organisation.
jp 1692 - "And invariably they question the validity of the data rather than their own interpretation of it..."
According to pretty reliable anecdotal evidence, when that sort of thing happens to WT reps assigned to the research, they simply stop looking, close the line of questioning down, and declare that "Jehovah's Witnesses are the happiest people on Earth! (Period)."