The death toll from Watchtower increases with the latest suicide report of Laura Ann Gracey. Here, her father recounts the events leading up to his daughter's taking of her own life - undoubtedly starting with her indoctrination from birth into this stifling, doomsday cult.
I see many similarities to myself as Laura. I internalized the pressure brought on by the Watchtower and had even attempted suicide at the age of 19 due to the perfectionist standards I inevitably kept falling short from. Coupled with the gruff injustice I was subjected to by my elders, I eventually snapped and left the organization a couple of years later to self-destruct with every vice possible.
Of course, I never drew the parallel to my dangerous lifestyle choices and depressive behavior to my religious upbringing and encounters with the elders. Although I had left, the seeds of my childhood indoctrination were firmly established with gnarly branches strangling me from the inside out. This was evident when I was careful to NEVER reveal to my then-therapist that I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness for fear of giving the organization a "bad name". I couldn't have her associating Jehovah's Witnesses with drug abuse and promiscuity, now, could I? It would hinder her from ever speaking to the Witnesses one day if she was contacted. With this vital piece of information left out of my blueprint, nothing my psychologist could say or do would penetrate through the thick sediment of delusion, misery and self-hatred that I was harboring.
Eventually, the organization beckoned. I'd hit rock bottom. Where else would I go? I returned at age 24, ready to be freshly programmed. I welcomed my child into this world in 2015 as a sister in good standing. And then 2016 rolled around and brought with it the Remain Loyal convention. I woke up. Hard.
I am thankful every day that my infant will NEVER grow up with the harrowing milieu of the society to envelop and encumber his mind and heart, as it did mine. Sure, troubled times may hit him later on in life, but I know he will never look up at me accusingly with the painful realization that he'd been lied to by the religion his mother raised him in and leave me with the one tortured question I'd asked my own parents after waking up: How could you?