why jw's commit suicide?
Thanks Ruby. I appreciate hearing about your background. Our past and recent connections are important to how we make sense of what we've been through.
The 1994 research you cited deserves more of my attention. I had heard of it several years ago - I cannot remember the context - and found the conclusions fascinating but also frustrating in terms of questions I had about the cross-section of religious individuals involved in the study. It is my observation that untold numbers of people who leave religious groups, JWs or others, go through sometimes protracted periods of trying their level best to 'fit in' despite misgivings and really wanting the religion to be right. But eventually they come to the sad conclusion that, it is not do much they don't believe it but rather they cannot believe it. It is this tortured state that can affect individuals regardless of religious affiliation but its consequences will differ depending on the level of control the group has over responding to the individual's departure. That is the crucial variable that interests me.
@diog- you say things have gotten worse since my day.... out of curiosity, when do you think "my day" was....?
Just a guess: Not with Chuck Russell in the 19th century?
I would say JW's commit suicide for the same reason other people commit suicide. They can not stand the emotional pain any more. All throughout my Adult life, from time to time I would think life was too much trouble.
And my stinking thinking would always lead back to the Kingdom Hall and Jehovah's Witnesses.
But then I would read about how to deal with suicidal thoughts and get through it.
Depression is a temporary thing, suicide is a permanent thing.
I suspect based on the number of books, I have read that there are a lot of ways to deal with suicidal thoughts so I will not list them here. Some may be too controversial for this crowd.
If you are too depressed to read a book and follow the directions then, you need to dial 911 and most likely they will put you on the road to overcoming your depression.
Overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts is kind of like dieting, lifting weights, learning a foreign language. The principles to recovery work if you work them.
It takes effort on the depressed ones part. It requires rebuilding your mind and then keeping it properly fueled.
You know posts like this are extremely insensitive and not thought out. Everybody in the world can struggle with mental illness. There is no cure. You cannot stop it. No group is immune. And there has never been a study done about the suicide rate of Jehovah's Witnesses that I've ever heard of. In the U.S. about 40,000 people a year kill themselves. I do not believe the suicide rate of Jehovah's Witnesses is anywhere near that.
People need to make posts where they are not coming from the JW's-are-the-worst-people-in-the-world in all aspects. It kind of makes you look like a homer.
my thinking is along your lines Mad Irishman but I can see James Brown pov too as in many cases life has to be like that (was watching a prog about recovering addicts on TV a couple of days ago). I think it depends on each personality - thankyou
steve2 I had to reply to this
It is my observation that untold numbers of people who leave religious groups, JWs or others, go through sometimes protracted periods of trying their level best to 'fit in' despite misgivings and really wanting the religion to be right. But eventually they come to the sad conclusion that, it is not do much they don't believe it but rather they cannot believe it. It is this tortured state that can affect individuals regardless of religious affiliation but its consequences will differ depending on the level of control the group has over responding to the individual's departure. That is the crucial variable that interests me.
I can resonate with the tortured existence part and I think definitely psych help and the strengthening aspects of medication can enable an individual to see that they are not to blame for not fitting in. However, when a person who feels like this finds that the outside world can be another, albiet lesser, version of the same or similar, what happens then? Hope I'm not being insensitive in asking this question. A close relative has experienced this and I must tell you I tried everything. In the end the person decided that the world outside did not share their values enough and the person decided to return. The one avenue that I think could have helped would have been education but sadly this path was not open to that person.
the good thing is that this person vowed to never let the do more to fit in mantra affect them and has learned skills to overcome that inner voice that tells you to obey obey even to the point of making oneself ill.
Ruby: If you have mental health issues then it is best to stay away from witnesses.
It's just best to stay away from JWs, and ANY cult for that matter, whether you have mental health issues or not!
So Ruby, I just searched the paper by Laurence R. Iannaccone which you referenced on page 4: "Why Strict Churches Are Strong."
Why did you reference this in relation to the OP? "Suicide" wasn't mentioned once in the entire 32 page paper and, although JWs were mentioned four times, none of those references had anything to do with mental health!
That being said, there was an intriguing comment made by Iannaccone in his conclusion when he wrote: "A study of unsuccessful sects is needed to test the [rational choice theory] theory's prediction that too much strictness causes just as much harm as too little." Although I fail to see the need to restrict such a study to "unsuccessful sects," the questions raised by this recommendation about high-control, authoritarian groups (aka "cults") are very germane to the topic under discussion.
I would also caution that a paper like this is limited in its application to groups like JWs, because the very underlying assumption of "rational choice theory" does not apply to cults. No one willingly and knowingly join a destruction cult. They join a group which they perceive as benign at the least and hope is very positive. The harmful effects are hidden and only discovered after one has made the commitment.
Also, Iannaccone's comment that "that too much strictness causes just as much harm as too little" is simply not true. Too little strictness never leads to tragedies such as Jonestown. Fundamentalist extremism of all sorts are malignant cancers of the soul and psyche.
jp1692 people with mental health issues are treated like free riders and are given a hard time because they cannot keep up and indeed Scott Atran 2002 who cites Iannaccone's paper argues that because such religions have no place for those who cannot perform to their demandingly strict standards they leave and this is why there are high turnover rates amongst such religions. Atran was investigating how people with mental health problems fare amongst groups like Jehovhas witnesses
edit: of course rational choice theory applies to "cults". Your saying that it does not apply does not make it so.
I think I would have to disagree with your last two sentences too as they come across as rather fundamentalist. A disciplined environment has been found to work very well for reocvoring drug addicts and so long as they remain within those confines they do very well. there are other groups as will that do with better in more disciplined environments - at school for example.
btw Atran concluded that Jehovahs witnesses are no help to those with mental illnesses whereas mainstream religions do help with depression and well being.
jp1692 the rational choice part applies to the religion itself and how it functions rather than to those who join.
steve2 I was wondering about group therapy for jws and exjws. I was wondering if in this scenaro a jw/xjw might come to see that their feelings and beliefs (the ones that are making them ill) are not that different from others. what I mean is unwanted repetitive thoughts as mentioned by notalone in his opening post. Wondering if this might in a general sense make them feel less isolated and alienated from the world at large.
“Ruby456”: “. . . you will see that where religion predominates the suicide rates are lower . . .”
It’s not just a matter of whether or not an area is religious or how much, but, more importantly I think, it’s a matter of exactly what type of religion; i.e., orthodox/fundamentalist, radical/extremist, high-control, exclusive or inclusive, mainstream, progressive, etc.