why jw's commit suicide?

by notalone 149 Replies latest jw friends

  • steve2

    the suicide rate isn't higher among JWs than general populations. in fact it is lower. In general suicide rates are lower among people in religions because religions tend to deal with issues of life and death in very direct ways. I'm not arguing for religion but that secular cultures need to address the issue of suicide more directly. this is what WHO says about it

    Ruby's views on the comparative suicide rate of JWs have been well-aired on this forum - and long may her disparate views be seen as part of a vigorous exchange that is open to review and comment.

    On the topic of suicide being a more openly known topic in congregations, I have a very different view. Because of the level of shame and even stigma - often associated with suicidal behaviour and its completion, I know of instances where the family chose to tell others that the death was not intended and/or was accidental (although coroners' reports stated otherwise). I know this because 1) I work in the field of mental health, 2) have reviewed mental-health files of completed suicides and am privy to confidential correspondence that shows how prepared significant numbers of families are to "sanitize" the results for others in their respective communities. Therefore, when Ruby presents a seemingly clearcut take on it being hard to cover over suicide within a close religious community, I view her comments as markedly naïve - given what I know can occur in "the background".

    Regarding the research that shows religious affiliation is a protective factor against suicidal behaviour, let's be clear:

    1. That research did not focus on high-control religious groups;

    2. That research did not control for suicide amongst troubled or conflicted religious individuals;

    3. That research speaks in general terms about the shared sense of community experienced by churchgoers which acts as a buffer against the extremes of mental-health distress. It has little to say about the effects of exclusion from that buffer - THIS is the aspect many of us on this forum refer to. In other words, it is accepted that individuals who feel loved and supported are less likely to succumb to severe effects of mental-health distress. That said, we also know of individuals who, in order to remain under that protective buffer, have had to suppress their inner turmoil.

    Anyone who works in the field of mental health knows that suicidal behaviour is no respecter of belief systems. I know from my work that troubled and conflicted individuals in religious groups often suffer in silence or are put into "the too hard basket."

    If only Ruby's idyllic take on the research on religious affiliation and improved mental health could be applied "across the board".

  • Ruby456

    I'm glad that I often disagree with you steve2 as you are hardly an objective or realistic poster and since you are neither there is not a lot more I can say to you either.

    edit: I do hope that if you find that you are having difficulty treating JW patients that you refer them on for psychiatric help.

  • LisaRose

    Good points Steve. It makes sense to me that in general more religious people are less prone to suicide, because they usually represent a strong community of people with shared values, who are likely to provide a good support system, plus most religions have rules against suicide, those who do will not go to heaven, which provides motivation not to commit.

    It doesn't work as well for Jehovah's Witnesses, because they tend to see anyone with problems as being "weak" in faith. There is a mindset that faithful meeting attendance, service, study and prayer should fix any problem, when it doesn't, that person tends to become isolated. People may express concern at first, but when time goes by and the person doesn't fall into line they tend to get ignored. If they then transgress in some way they will be disfellowshiped and lose all contact not only with the congregation, but any JW family. A disfellowshiped person is then even worse off than someone not in a relgion, as any support system they have is now completely gone.

    Then you add the mindset that such people may believe that they are going to die soon at Armageddon anyway and they really have no reason not to kill themselves, if their mental pain is bad enough.

    The JWs are often not aware of these suicides because the person has often not been associated for some time, or the true cause of death is not mentioned, but it doesn't mean their death was not a result of the religion, it just means the organization can claim it's very rare, and no one can prove otherwise.

    I personally heard of at least ten in the time I was associated, plus a close family member that attempted twice.

  • steve2

    Ruby wrote:

    I'm glad that I often disagree with you steve2 as you are hardly an objective or realistic poster and since you are neither there is not a lot more I can say to you either.

    edit: I do hope that if you find that you are having difficulty treating JW patients that you refer them on for psychiatric help.


    Ruby, I was expecting from you a continued difference of view well-argued but I was not exp[ecting an ad hominen response. That has taken me aback - because I don't recall you ever doing this before.

    Where did I say I "treat" JW patients? I am a registered clinical psychologist in a hospital-based community mental-health service where I abide by a strict code of conduct and am accountable to the New Zealand Psychologists Board.

    Who I do treat remains confidential.

    In an earlier post, when I spoke of the mental-health file reviews I conduct, I did not once specify the religious backgrounds - although astute readers can read between the lines.

    I was clear in stating that mental-health difficulties were no respecter of religious beliefs. Whilst I made clear that I did not share your views, I don't think I resorted to any derogatory comments about you as an individual who has a perfect right to her views. I don't think I once said that I am an objective poster - what I have said is I based my comments on my clinical observations and I acknowledge others - such as yourself - may not agree with my conclusions.

    I'm hoping this is a lapse on your part because up until now our comments to each other - and about each other - have not collapsed into personal asides or sarcasm. If, however, anything I have said to or about you has been construed as derogatory by you, I need that brought to my attention because that is not something I would feel good about and I would apologize. Best, steve.

  • LongHairGal

    HERE I GO:

    You have a point there with the "maybe you will be saved..." Even after a Witness knocks themselves out, they may still be rejected as being not worthy of being saved. This bothered me as well.

    But, just add this to all the other guilt trips there and you have a recipe for depression and feelings of unworthiness.

    I'm glad to be out of this very unhealthy religion.

  • jp1692

    Notalone: We all know the rate of suicide is high among jw's.

    This is obviously an important topic. It needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed with some sensitivity. It also needs to be factually accurate. And so I'm going to ask some direct questions:

    1. How do "we all know" this?
    2. What data do you have to back it up?
    3. How was it collected and by whom?

    I'm not trying to diminish the seriousness of this topic. Indeed, one suicide is too many to me. But we need to be careful making statements that are not substantiated by facts.

    If you have some, please provide them.

    Steve2 provided a few excellent points for consideration in this regard too.



  • jp1692

    Ruby: the suicide rate isn't higher among JWs than general populations. in fact it is lower.

    How do you know this? What facts do you have to substantiate this claim?

    I looked at the link you provided and I could not find a single, specific reference to Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Please provide evidence and data to back up your claim.



  • jp1692

    Ok, so now we have two posters--Notalone and Ruby--asserting completely contradictory information about the suicide rates of JWs in comparison to others, and yet neither of them can or will provide independently verifiable data to back up their assertions:

    • Notalone: We all know the rate of suicide is high among jw's.
    • Ruby: The suicide rate isn't higher among JWs than general populations. In fact it is lower.

    Careful, thoughtful people avoid making unfounded assertions. They also avoid accepting them uncritically and unchallenged.

    Demand facts. Ask questions. Think critically.

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Xanthippe is right on the mark.

    As my many many friends, fans and followers know, I was in the WTB&TS cult in the period of the late 1950s through the mid-ish 1970s. During that time period, JWs were given a vitual "Ticket to Paradise" through the WT doctrine that Armageddon was due any day now ("closer than the inside of your eyelid," I used to say) AND people who died prior to Armageddon could expect to be resurrected before people who died further in the past. This "Last Out/First In" (LOFI) strategy made "theocratic sense" at the time; after all, wouldn't King Jesus want you to be there when your parents and grandparents were resurrected? Sure he would.

    But the unintended effect of this was it this gave people that "Ticket to Paradise" I mentioned earlier.

    Many availed themseles of this opportunity, and many others seriously considered it.

    That's my observation. Your mileage may vary, but if it does, you're wrong.

  • Old Navy
    Old Navy

    The WTBorg Inc. program of Cult Mind Control does include carefully designed mentally implanted "cues" to produce feelings of very deep depression, even to the extent of self-destruction, should those who are vulnerable think or act out desires to depart from the Borg. This technique is well developed in government sponsored mind control programs such as MK Ultra and Monarch. The intent is to effectively silence any "apostates" who would dare leave the controlled group.

    The implanted fear based "cues" are activated by doubting thoughts and are capable of inducing a severely impaired reasoning ability such that death seems a natural course of action.

    It is truly sick in its effectiveness. So much so that "normal" thinking people simply cannot comprehend.

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