A Suicide

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
afterall
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Re: A Suicide

Post by afterall » 24 Aug 2014, 08:17

I continue to lurk more than I post, but I am always thinking as I read posts. I have to come out of lurking to thank all of you for this post. This topic is very close and personal to me as we lost an immediate family member to suicide in the past year. We are still trying to recover and are starting to realize we won't recover fully, that we will spend the rest of our lives dealing with the what if's and trying to figure out how we could have changed the scenario. Our family member's suicide was precipitated by brain physiology. When the brain (your control center) fails physiologically, you are in big trouble. Even if our family member had been saved from the suicide, we do not know what the long term outcome and quality of life would have been.

Nibbler, thank you for posting the link to the 1987 talk by Elder Ballard. At some point, whenever I had energy again, I wanted to discuss that here. RagDollSally, I understand your reaction. This article was given to us right after the event. I appreciate what Elder Ballard was trying to accomplish with his own personal experiences. I do not, however, understand why he brought to life the older quotes regarding self-murder, criminal act, etc. Those were so painful to read in the midst of our shock!!! No one should ever be given this talk to read when this occurs in their family for this reason. I cannot tell you how many people sent us links to this talk, gave us printed out copies of this talk and the loss of Robin Williams just brought it all up again.

There was an abundance of the peace that surpasseth understanding at the time of our loss. This marred it, but I threw the first copy given to us away so that other family members would not read it and somehow blocked it out of my mind. When it was posted again recently on social media, I had a tremendous surge of feeling a need to correct this thinking. I believe no one is in their right mind when they complete suicide. Their natural instinct to preserve their own life is extinguished before they can do this. I believe suicide bombers have to be mentally ill too, or so worried about threats to their loved ones, they are driven to try to save them.

I have had a debate with LDS friends, who want to cling to those old quotes as revelation. Ray, we live in a very conservative area. We have too many who missed Elder Ballard's points as they read those old quotes. Other than the incident of this talk and one other disturbing situation, the LDS community, as well as friends of other faiths, warmed our hearts as they showed their distress at our distress. That absolutely carried us. We truly felt many were very much mourning with us. They served us, without waiting for assignments to come. Some were assigned, we are aware of that, but the majority just responded and came running.

The other incident, which I cannot write about yet, is still troubling me. I have to forgive, but since it caused extreme hurt to one of my family members at a time such as this, I am still working on forgiveness. I could write an entire book. All leadership would be well served to truly be educated on this topic, so that those who are grieving are not subjected to the biases, prejudices and ignorance at such a time. Fortunately, this priesthood leader only affected one family member. He reminded me of the parable of the Good Samaritan where the priest is so busy with his priestly duties that he crossed to the other side of the road and ignored the injured man. Other priesthood leaders for other family members were much more responsive.

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nibbler
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Re: A Suicide

Post by nibbler » 24 Aug 2014, 13:10

afterall wrote:Nibbler, thank you for posting the link to the 1987 talk by Elder Ballard. At some point, whenever I had energy again, I wanted to discuss that here. RagDollSally, I understand your reaction. This article was given to us right after the event. I appreciate what Elder Ballard was trying to accomplish with his own personal experiences. I do not, however, understand why he brought to life the older quotes regarding self-murder, criminal act, etc. Those were so painful to read in the midst of our shock!!! No one should ever be given this talk to read when this occurs in their family for this reason. I cannot tell you how many people sent us links to this talk, gave us printed out copies of this talk and the loss of Robin Williams just brought it all up again.
A BP printed off that talk and gave it to me shortly after a suicide in my family. They gave that to me in addition to a second talk, but I can't remember what the other one was.

To tell the truth I must have completely tuned out the parts where he re-iterates the suicide = self murder rhetoric. The talk does present those teachings but later attempts to shift direction starting with:
Those statements on their own might seem to leave no room for hope. However, although they stress the seriousness of suicide, the statements do not mention the final destination of those who take their own lives.
Where afterwards the focus of the talk shifts more towards our lack of knowing all the facts and relying on the lord's judgment. In being charitable, it could be his way of acknowledging past teachings or existing ideas surrounding suicide in order to lay the groundwork for the new attitudes that he feels should prevail. In our case I was the only member of the church in my family yet I still had to combat the suicide equals damnation doctrine among family members. My family certainly didn't get that from any LDS authority. It could be that Ballard was mentioning the elephant in the room so that he could then tear it down. Again, that's me being charitable. The true intent was clearly to cite church authority to reiterate the seriousness of suicide.
I feel that judgment for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. The Lord said, “Thou shalt not kill.” Does that mean that every person who kills will be condemned, no matter the circumstances? Civil law recognizes that there are gradations in this matter—from accidental manslaughter to self-defense to first-degree murder. I feel that the Lord also recognizes differences in intent and circumstances: Was the person who took his life mentally ill? Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed? Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended? Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act? Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance that led to despair and a loss of self-control?
The bolded, italicized emphasis is mine. It's unfortunate that one line is in that paragraph. To me it ties the old "suicide equals self murder" rhetoric in with what should have been the new rhetoric; "the lord knows all the circumstances and the lord's love is far greater than our own." He put the old wine in the new bottle with in that one line. Besides, it's an extremely insensitive thing to say.

Sorry, I haven't read that article since the last suicide in our family. I posted it without re-reading it. I still haven't re-read it all the way and with scrutiny. I probably should have done that before posting it - and somehow I'm still just skimming it and posting reactions to isolated excerpts. Shame on me.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Suicide

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Aug 2014, 13:50

I think nibbler is correct that Elder Ballard was trying to acknowledge the extreme consequences of suicide in most cases and the idea that suicide simply cannot be preached as a good option (that is has to be framed in terms of sin), but I also believe his heart was in the right place and the central message he was trying to convey is that God will be as merciful as possible with those who commit suicide (forgiving many or most) - since he knows the circumstances that lead to each one and will not hold people accountable for something that was outside of their control.

I've heard and read enough of what he has written and said over the years that I can't believe he is anywhere near a hardliner on this issue or that he believes most people who commit suicide will end up in Hell / the Telestial Kingdom. He's just not that type of person, and the overall tone of the talk doesn't match that view. The last half of the talk deals with holding onto hope, and that is the message I believe he was trying to share.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

afterall
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Re: A Suicide

Post by afterall » 24 Aug 2014, 17:49

Thank you Nibbler and Ray for responding. I do believe Elder Ballard meant well. It is too bad though that LDS members felt compelled to use the older quotes included in his talk to address suicides after Robin Williams' death. They obviously missed Elder Ballard's intent. Those quotes were definitely not helpful to our family at the time. We have since gone back over the talk and picked out exactly which parts were helpful and which parts would have been better left unsaid.

I will be thankful for the day when there is more research on this and suicide will not be framed in terms of sin, but instead in terms of body failure, just like we don't call dying from a heart attack a sin. I totally understand that we don't wish for the option of suicide to be out there. I definitely don't want that either. But trying to term it a sin is not helpful and does nothing to really help someone in the midst of their brain failing. Fear/stigma/shame actually contribute to the lack of obtaining help. I do not feel it is a sin. I feel it is a failure of the functioning of the body.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Suicide

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Aug 2014, 18:42

I agree, afterall. I'm just not sure I would want to have to talk about it in General Conference, for example. No matter how hard I might try to say everything just right, if even one person committed suicide immediately following my talk . . .
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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cwald
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Re: A Suicide

Post by cwald » 25 Aug 2014, 00:13

Ray DeGraw wrote:I agree and simply will point out how old that quote is...
Well, spending a decade studying the "teachings of the prophets" from 150 years ago does not help.

Is that still happening today?
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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nibbler
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Re: A Suicide

Post by nibbler » 25 Aug 2014, 06:37

afterall wrote:I will be thankful for the day when there is more research on this and suicide will not be framed in terms of sin, but instead in terms of body failure, just like we don't call dying from a heart attack a sin. I totally understand that we don't wish for the option of suicide to be out there. I definitely don't want that either. But trying to term it a sin is not helpful and does nothing to really help someone in the midst of their brain failing. Fear/stigma/shame actually contribute to the lack of obtaining help. I do not feel it is a sin. I feel it is a failure of the functioning of the body.
:thumbup:
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

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SamBee
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Re: A Suicide

Post by SamBee » 26 Aug 2014, 10:29

Excellent comments. I am glad that this thread has been of use to people here. This is an all too common occurrence that we rarely talk about.

There are a lot of myths about suicide IMHO. One of them is that it is cowardly. Actually, no it isn't. It takes guts to do, whether it's right or wrong. Japanese people use methods to take their own lives which are incredibly difficult and painful!

Secondly, there is the myth that it's usually a cry for help. Some of the time, it isn't. People want out of the agonizing situation that they are in, not necessarily to reach out for help from others. Some people take their own lives in locations that are remote, or in such a way that other people do not know it was a suicide - in these cases, it's not a cry for help by my reckoning.

Thirdly, the idea suicides are going to Hell. This is dealt with above. Personally I suspect they will have to do A LOT of spiritual spring cleaning in the next world, but I also believe that God has given them means to progress after death. Suicides are often much better people than some of those who die of natural causes - although we do have the Jim Jones and Hitlers of this world. God knows the hearts of men and women, and will judge them by that.

One thing that certainly IS true about suicide is that there are some selfish aspects to it. These may be blocked out by the person's mental state, but it is horrible for whoever has to find them - a train driver, policeman, or worse a relative. (I know one guy who found his father hanged, and has been dealing with it ever since, ending up a heroin addict for a while. Thankfully he is better, but I've tried to help him through many of these issues.)

Family and friends do get very, very hurt by a suicide, and that is one of the best reasons not to avoid it (if anyone reading this is thinking of it - please bear this in mind). They end up blaming themselves and wondering why. I mentioned above the brother who had committed suicide after a divorce. Now, I know him and his ex-wife are obviously estranged, but he will have hurt her severely whether he meant to or not. She may not love him anymore, but she will feel guilt and probably some grief.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SamBee
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Re: A Suicide

Post by SamBee » 26 Aug 2014, 10:33

cwald wrote:
Ray DeGraw wrote:I agree and simply will point out how old that quote is...
Well, spending a decade studying the "teachings of the prophets" from 150 years ago does not help.
I know where you're coming from on this. In my view, there are some wonderful things from 150 years ago we can still use, and some awful things we won't but there are also some more recent things we probably don't want to go anywhere near!
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Roy
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Re: A Suicide

Post by Roy » 26 Aug 2014, 16:19

I appreciate the discussion in this thread. Thanks to all the participants!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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