Start the Conversation: New Tools for Veteran Suicide Prevention
Use this toolkit to find information about common issues that many Veterans face, as well as concrete steps to help you support a Veteran who may be dealing with emotional distress or at risk for suicide.
Learn how to identify the factors that may increase a Veteran’s risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors and the warning signs indicating that someone may be in crisis. In addition, this section will help you identify resources that you can turn to for support.
This section describes conditions that may affect Veterans’ emotional health and increase their risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior. Discover information about treatment options and links to resources in your community.
For Veterans in crisis, the simple act of starting a conversation can be the support they need to begin a journey toward feeling like themselves again. The resources in this section can help you learn simple, encouraging ways to show your support to a Veteran you are concerned about, tips for speaking with a Veteran in need, and questions you can ask to keep the conversation going.
Hey Folks, What’s Up? Hope you all doing well. You may got the assumption of my post, by title of the blog. So I don’t think I should’ve to give more narration about it, Right?
Exactly Right guess, in today’s post I told/explain you, why you shouldn’t commit SUICIDE. But have you any Idea Why people/person commit suicide? As one’s life became more n more stressful/painful – by giving up to situation person chose to Commit Suicide as a last option.
But Really it’s Right Option though? Not at all, Infact Suicide will never be the Right Option/Choice even Not Today – Not Yesterday and Never Ever. By commiting Suicide one may release from those situation which lead them to there, but they forget they lost the most precious thing of World, i.e. LIFE.
But do you know what Life mean by? The person who knew it will never commits Suicide and the person who doesn’t knew will always find Suicide as a Right choice or say right option. But their Right option will turned out to be Blow for their family, a huge blow, which never imagine by other.
Suicide, the word itself shows its Cruelty. By Killing themselves how can One can said that he/she survived? Infact they don’t kill themselves only, They kills firstly their Confidence, which forced him/her to doing stuffs & face result whatsoever.
They kills their family, by giving them unexpected news of the death. They kills their respective life which is very rare. They just kills the aim of their life.
But really If you born as Human then just Thank to God, for giving you life as human and what do you did if you’ve no courage to face problems or issues of life? Just shorten your life, that’s all? Is it the right treatment to the God Gift?
Of Course, NO. Then what to do if you’ve thought in your mind to commit Suicide? Really, I know when people have no guts to face the world or say left no option to live the life they drove towards it. One should’ve to find the Reason to live the life, & that reason is very clear – Happiness of your Parents.
Just think about it, when you decided to commit Suicide – Remember Your Mother’s Face, Ocean of Million Dreams to see you as Most Successful person of the World & Your Father’s Face, who say less but there’s lot to learn from each n every word of him. Really don’t you think that reason is enough which forced you to think about your Decision regarding life?
Look Problems, Obstacles, Issues, Defeats and Shame is part of your life cycle. It doesn’t mean you’ve to give up on situations or say you are useless. Let people blame you or whatever they want to do with you. Just stay with yourself.
It’s said that In Bad Time Even your Shadow won’t Stay with you. But I want to say Who need Shadow when you’ve your own Support. Never break down your Confidence. The Day when you starting to doubt towards yourself, Your count down is began of Life.
Do whatever just be hammer will. Never give a shitty chance to others to judge you. Just stay with your Real Personality. Never be Fack, be Original.
I just want to share my funda which help me lot when negative thoughts playing in my Brain,
Always carry a Photograph of your Parent in yout Wallet or Purse & whenever you feel pessimist/negative, Just See it, Believe me You Automatically Gonna Smile/feels Relaxed.
Really Before commiting Suicide, think Calmly, think Twice, think pros and cons of it and then chose, Is it really Beneficial to others by commiting you Suicide? If your inner soul won’t respond stop there & calls to your close one to whom you can share your Situation.
Suicide is not an Option, Not NOW – Not THEN – Not SO EVER.
So that’s all for the day, if you meet any person who looks broken and left no interest to live the life then help him/her to get out of difficulties. Otherwise one can contact me on follow email ID, I’ll consult you soon.
For the past decade, the suicide rate among teens has been increasing. Among teen boys, suicide completion has increased 33 percent over the last 10 years, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 The major risk factors for suicide are genetics, mood disorder (major depression), pessimism, misreading social cues, impulsivity, and impaired learning.
How Genetic Risk and Suicide Are Connected
Fifty percent of suicide risk is genetic, meaning suicide risk is inheritable and does run in families. This does not mean that a person is predestined to die by suicide if they have family members who have died by suicide, but they do have an increased risk for it. This risk can be mitigated by awareness and purposeful interventions to prevent or treat the other factors that increase risk, thereby reducing suicide risk even in those who have genetic vulnerability. There isn’t a specific gene that increases the risk; instead, it’s the interaction of hundreds if not thousands of genes. Thus, even though the genetic risk is well documented, a specific genetic test is not available.
While we cannot point to a specific gene, it is known that the brain’s serotonin system is involved. Postmortem studies reveal that people at high risk of suicide have fewer serotonin transporters in their brains when compared to people who died in accidents. And brain changes in serotonin receptors predict suicidality and also the lethality of the attempt.
How Depression and Suicide Are Related
People with a history of recurrent major depression have a 13-fold increased risk of suicide. Major depression is the most important and treatable risk factor for suicide. Many people believe that suicide risk goes up because of some stressful life event while failing to realize that many of the stressful life events are the result of major depression that is not being treated.
When people are depressed, they are more likely to:
Socially isolate, be unavailable, be easily overwhelmed, and thereby experience relationship problems and breakups.
Call in sick to work, have impaired job performance, and thereby lose their job.
Fail to pay bills either because of lost work and can’t afford to, or lost attention to life’s responsibilities, and thereby lose their car or home or have creditors calling.
So, the life stressors people attribute as the cause of suicide may, in reality, be due to underlying depression that is not being treated. Then when these additional life problems hit persons already suffering from depression, they are overwhelmed and pursue suicide as a means to escape their mental and emotional pain. In fact, the data shows that people without depression who face similar life stressors have significantly reduced risk of suicide when compared to someone with depression facing the stressor.
Further, studies show that not all people with depression experience suicidal thoughts, but those who have a pessimistic mindset in addition to being depressed are the ones at increased risk. Even when the depression is treated and remits, those at higher risk for suicide continue to manifest a pessimistic outlook on life compared to depressed people who are not suicidal.
The point here is that hope and hopefulness in the face of depression and real-life stressors reduces suicide risk, whereas pessimism increases the risk.
4 Risk Factors to Look For
Research documents four factors, occurring simultaneously, that work together to drive suicidal behavior. Those four factors are:
1. Recurrent major depression
2. Misreading social cues
4. Impaired learning
Brain studies reveal that when given standard tests that require them to determine emotional states by looking at faces, those at high risk for suicide misread the faces in ways that incite fear, hurt, rejection—which is a dysfunction of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we reason, think, and problem solve.
Further, those at increased risk demonstrate impaired response inhibition—the ability to pause, think, and make a wise choice. When given a choice of receiving $50 immediately or $300 in 30 minutes, those at risk for suicide take the $50 right away, whereas those at low risk for suicide wait the 30 minutes. This is impairment in response inhibition, the ability to stop an impulse and wait for a better opportunity.
People at high risk also demonstrate impaired learning from previous events. We have all experienced situations in which something stressful has occurred, inciting anxiety, fear, and worry—but eventually, the problem passed. People at low risk for suicide are able to learn from such events so that when new stressors occur, they are able to remember that things will get better, the stressor will resolve, and life will improve. But people at high risk fail to learn this, and each new stressor is experienced with overwhelming fear and often hopelessness.
It should be noted that all of the above risk factors are worsened by alcohol and drug abuse. Such substances increase mood disorders, damage thinking and learning circuits, increase impulsivity, and often contribute to increased life stress (financial, relational, and legal problems).
Factors in Reducing Suicide
Understanding all of these risk factors has led to effective interventions that reduce suicide risk and rates. What are the factors with proven efficacy in reducing suicide?
1. Removing the means—removing guns and lethal pills from home
2. Treating depression with psychotherapies and medications; both reduce suicide
3. In-school education about risks and warning signs and ways to get help
4. Limiting media reporting and coverage of suicides
5. Alcohol- and substance-use treatment
Another factor at play in suicide risk includes loss of meaning, value, and purpose. Neuroscience demonstrates that when the brain’s love circuits activate, they calm the fear/stress circuits. Activities and experiences that increase love, altruism, other-centered connection, and meaning will decrease suicide risk, whereas actions that isolate and increase fear will increase suicide risk.
With this in mind, let’s examine societal trends and infer some potential changes that may be increasing risk. Historically, American values were built on three overriding elements: God, Family, Country. When these elements are valued and esteemed, they create an other-centered worldview—we live to glorify God, to bless and protect our families, and to help our country. As John F. Kennedy said more than 50 years ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
But today’s generation is taught that there is no God, many families are fractured, and the country is abusive, can’t be trusted, and is supposed to give to “me.” This change in values and mindset means that there is nothing more important than the self, which results in increased fear, which in turn neurobiologically drives increasing depression, hopelessness, and suicide.
How Can We Reduce Suicide Risk?
By being aware, by removing means from those at risk, by treating mental illness (depression), getting into substance treatment—but also by increasing love, purpose, and meaning. We need to teach young people that they are valued, they are loved, they are precious, and they have purpose, but also that life is not all about them; we teach them that their true joy, happiness, and health will be realized only when they come into harmony with how God built reality to operate. And God built reality to operate upon other-centered love.
Young people must see in their families, churches, schools, and community how genuine compassion, grace, mercy, and altruism functions. They must see love in action, love manifested toward them and those they care about. They must see the God of love, choose to surrender self, and live lives in harmony with God’s design—lives of altruism, compassion, and service—seeking to give, to bless others, rather than seeking to get. When this occurs, the fear circuits of the brain calm and the risk for suicide decreases.
1. Miron, O., et al., Suicide Rates Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States, 2000-2017, JAMA. 2019;321(23):2362-2364. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5054
Timothy R. Jennings, MD, DFAPA is president of Come and Reason Ministries and is a board-certified psychiatrist with a private medical practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is a master psychopharmacologist, lecturer, international speaker, and the author of several books including The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life and The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us.
As John received revelation upon revelation sitting exiled upon the Isle of Patmos he issued a very strong warning to us in our day. He told us that our entire world would be deceived (lied to) through the sorceries that would come out of Babylon. (Rev. 18:23-24)
He went on to say that the end result of this deception would be the demise of prophets, saints and many good men. In other words no one would be spared in this great deception by these sorceries. Remember that we were told that even the very elect would be deceived.
So what is this sorcery of which John warns?
The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakia, which means “medicine from a pharmacy.” WHAT?! Does that mean the drugs we find in those pharmacies on nearly every street corner now? Is it talking about those same drugs with ads that run all day long on our TVs and in magazines that we see everywhere we look?!
Is it any wonder then that these prescription drugs are now being reported as the biggest drug problem in America today? Is it any wonder that the whole world has been deceived about these drugs?
According to a 1995 study done by concerned pharmacists, prescription drugs, taken “as prescribed” rather than abused, are the third leading cause of death in this country, killing as many Americans every week as we lost at 9/11. The death toll of another 9/11 every week in this country! In light of this we need to ask who the real terrorists are when we are in a war over one week’s worth of these deaths while all the others go unnoticed, slaughtered and buried right under our noses. Is it any wonder the scriptures speak so sternly of sorcerers and sorcery?
In 2008 we read in the New England Journal of Medicine that almost half of the studies done on one of America’s most popular group of drugs, antidepressants, were negative, yet when any of those negative studies were reported to the public the results were presented as positive.
They also said the studies indicated that there was little evidence these drugs which bring in nearly $200 million per day were more effective than placebos in treating depression.
Deception? Deadly deception! How deadly?
The most popular of these antidepressants, Effexor, now has “homicidal ideation” listed as a side effect. Homicidal ideation is not just killing someone, but it is having constant ruminating thoughts of killing and how to kill.
To see the results of just this one deception with antidepressants go to www.ssristories.NET where you will find a very long list of school shootings, loving mothers and fathers who have killed their children, children who have killed their parents, suicides, murder/suicides, female school teachers who have seduced male students, even well respected ministers who have raped children, previously “straight” individuals who have become “gay” – even to the point of having sex change surgery, extreme out of character behavior, including violence, wild spending sprees, embezzlement, sexual promiscuity, exhibitionism, gambling, etc. – all side effects of antidepressants.
Then the FDA announced that they have been investigating many various types of medications for the potential of causing suicide. After learning that antidepressants increase suicidal potential by 2-3 times suddenly the FDA officials realized that multiple classes of medicines might cause dangerous psychiatric problems including suicide.
Medicines to treat acne, hypertension, seizures, high cholesterol, swelling, heartburn, pain, bacterial infections and insomnia can all cause psychiatric problems, effects that were discovered in most cases after the drugs were approved and already used in millions of patients.
Now, how could these medications produce such things? With antidepressants that answer can be as simple as explaining that antidepressants create a sleep disorder in which the patient acts out nightmares. It is called a REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) and 86% of those being diagnosed with the disorder are taking antidepressants. RBD is known to produce both murder and suicide. Acting out one’s worst nightmare – what a perfect way to produce out-of-character behavior that could destroy all a person has worked to achieve in character building throughout life–all gone in the blink of the eye!
Even worse than understanding the potential of these drugs to produce RBD, is to know that in the past RBD was known mainly as a drug withdrawal state. So the question of great concern at this point should be: “If antidepressants are being found to be in current use in 86% of the cases just how high will that percentage go in the withdrawal state from these drugs?!” This is why is it so important to avoid the worst of withdrawal by weaning EXTREMELY SLOWLY down off an antidepressant.
As people begin to see how they have been lied to about the safety and effectiveness of these drugs and attempt to come off the drugs, what will the end result be? Knowing what I know about these drugs and the withdrawal from these drugs I can tell you that I for one DO NOT want to witness what we will see!
If there has ever been a situation in the history of this world where we have so desperately needed to adhere to the command to be our “brother’s keeper” this is it! In doing so, even if you are not the one taking the drug, the life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.
Why? Because when someone goes psychotic in the withdrawal they can do anything to anyone and I just might be you or your loved one. (For information on safe withdrawal go to www.drugawareness.org to find the CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!)
Kim Crespi near Charlotte, NC learned of antidepressant withdrawal all too painfully on January 20, 2006 when her husband David, a good strong Christian and wonderful husband and father, who was also a vice president of the local bank and well respected in the community, stabbed their twin four year old daughters to death.
David was months into an abrupt withdrawal from Paxil and had just started taking Prozac. He and Kim were not aware that the FDA had just warned the year before that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant, whether going up or down (he had just done both), can produce suicide, hostility, or psychosis – generally a manic psychosis leading to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Of course it is not true Bipolar, but a drug withdrawal effect, yet so many have found they would be medicated for years for something (the Bipolar Disorder) they don’t really have.
Is it any wonder that the diagnosis of Bipolar has increased by 4000% over a recent 10 year period when it was basically unheard of before SSRI antidepressants?
But why is all this happening to us? Where did we go wrong?
For the answer we need to turn to Isaiah 28:8 where, he, speaking of our day, says that we will rise up each day to get drunk (but he had already made it clear that this drunkenness would not be from wine or strong drink). What would produce that drunken state then? Well when do people generally take their medications? First thing in the morning? These are mind altering medications. And what do the package inserts list as side effects? That is right – all the same effects one could expect from alcohol, but much stronger.
Isaiah then goes on to tell us why people would suffer the feelings of needing drugs. He says that our tables are “full of vomit” and there is nothing clean there.
Well, what is vomit? Vomit is food that either has already had the nutrients extracted or food that cannot be used by the body and is expelled because of that. And unclean? Look at the chemicals that have saturated our food supply.
So if our tables are full of vomit – food that has been depleted of nutrients or food that cannot be utilized where does that leave us? We are nutrient depleted. And where does nutrient depletion lead us? It leads us to stimulants of any kind in order to force our bodies and brains to perform since they do not have the fuel or building blocks from nutrients to perform.
Perhaps the most obvious segment of society in which to see this is that which is most transparent due to the exposure they get – Hollywood. Show business is a very high profile and highly demanding profession. If you watch the lives of those in the business you generally see only two groups: health nuts or drug users. They either reach for nutrients to supply the building blocks they need to build energy levels they need to cope with their fast paced lifestyle or they use drugs to force their bodies/brains to keep up the fast pace. It is simple to see which of those choices coincides with the Savior’s teachings.
One extremely critical point for all Christians to understand is the serotonin connection to spirituality. Antidepressants as well as the new atypical antipsychotics work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. But 50% of the serotonin is metabolized by the pineal gland.
What is the pineal gland? It is the master gland of the body and also known as the “seat of the soul” or our connection to higher, spiritual thoughts. In Eastern religions it is known as the Third Eye and is located right in the center of the brain behind the eyes. The question we need to ask is that if the Pineal gland is overloaded with large amounts of serotonin produced by these drugs, does it interfere with that spiritual connection?
According to patients using these drugs it does. They continually report that they can no longer feel God. One perfect example that comes to mind is that of Elizabeth Bush, the 14 year old girl who shot her best friend at the private Catholic school they attended. Elizabeth’s hero in life was Mother Teresa. Elizabeth planned to devote her life to God and become a nun. So how did she go from that point to a charge of attempted murder almost overnight?
I called her attorney when this happened and told him what happened was likely the result of the use of one of these antidepressants. He did not show much interest, but said he would check. Then the following week Elizabeth was interviewed on 20/20 and asked this very question of how did she go from Mother Teresa as her hero to shooting her best friend at school. Her reply was that she could “no longer feel God anymore.”
I called her attorney the following morning and told him I no longer had any question about whether or not his client had been on an antidepressant nor any question about its contribution to causing this tragedy. With that new evidence about her inability to feel God anymore, in my mind, I knew. At that point he asked me to hold for a minute and when he returned he said through the rustling of papers, “Paxil. Is Paxil one of those drugs?”
So, as dangerous and life-threatening as these drugs can be, even worse is the possibility that we can be severed from the spiritual by these drugs. Not only can they produce physical death, but also spiritual death.
Where did we go wrong?
Clearly we have underestimated Satan and his potential to pull us into his web of deceit and debauchery. Just because he is evil, does not mean he is stupid. He has much knowledge, far more than we do. Not more power than we do, because we do have the strength to overcome all with the help of the Savior. But we must be constantly aware of his cunning craftiness when it comes to his power to deceive. This awful situation in which we now find ourselves is a call for humility and faith and a reminder to always turn to the Savior in ALL things rather than trusting in the arm of flesh.
[For additional information on serotonin and antidepressant medications along with additional information on the great deception of pharmakia that John spoke of see Ann Blake-Tracy’s book, Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare ]
I will share here three articles with additional information as full confirmation of those prophetic warnings to us in Revelations. In the end I think you will see that it was not modern medicine that you might have thought made you well, but God who actually spared your life from the danger.
First is from my friend and fellow Board Member, Dr. Candace Pert, whose research make SSRI antidepressants possible & who served for 13 years as Chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry, Clinical Neuroscience Branch, at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Next is a radio interview with Dr. John Virapen who is the one responsible for BUYING the approval (yes he paid a bribe in Pharmas’ behalf ) to get these drugs on the market. Listen to him admit it all in this first radio interview he did in the United States in 2010:
The last one is from Dr. John Ioanidis, the world’s leading expert on medical science who has been warning since 2005 that 90% of medical research is at least tainted if not outright bogus, due to influence ($$$$$$) from industry!
To demonstrate the seriousness of this situation he stated he is not sure medical science will be able to survive this! One simple question to bring perspective: “Would you take your car to a mechanic who is relying on information on the car which is 90% incorrect?” And yet according to Dr. Ioannidis, this is exactly what you are doing with your own health/your very life or the health/lives of your loved ones, every time you walk into a doctor’s office!]
WITHDRAWAL WARNING:In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!
The FDA also now warns that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant can produce suicide, hostility or psychosis. These reactions can either come on very rapidly or even be delayed for months depending upon the adverse effects upon sleep patterns when the withdrawal is rapid!
Ann Blake Tracy is the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and the author of: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”
This July 4th let’s remember our founders also signed a Declaration of Dependence
Having had the opportunity to travel around the world, let me say I think America is the greatest country on earth.
We are far from perfect. We have our many flaws. But we have so much to be thankful for as a nation.
Imagine what kind of world we would live in today if there had been no America: No one to turn back the rise of the Nazis in World War II. No one to stand up against the tyranny of communism and socialism. No one to stand up for our ally Israel and other nations that need our help.
Why has America been able to do all those things? Because we have a foundation that has taught us what right and wrong are, that every individual life has inherent value and dignity and that there is a God who can and wants to bless us if we follow him.
We learn these things from the most influential book in our country’s history: the Bible.
Thomas Jefferson once said about the Bible, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens.” Of Holy Scripture, Andrew Jackson said it is “the Rock on which our republic rests.” Abraham Lincoln stated, “All the good Savior gave to the World was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All the things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found in it.”
The Fourth of July is this week. As you know, our Founding Fathers framed a document that we call the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
We often forget that in declaring independence from an earthly power, our forefathers made a direct declaration of dependence upon God Almighty. The closing words of this document declare, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
But 243 years later, it seems we no longer rely on God the way our founders did.
We have thrown God out of the classroom. We have thrown him out of the courtroom, a judicial system built on biblical truth. And we have done our best to throw him out of modern culture.
And when people forget God, they forget the One who blesses them in times of abundance and guides them in times of hardship. Abraham Lincoln recognized this many years ago when our nation was embroiled in a bloody civil war:
We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
Today, though our Union is at peace, we face a situation not unlike the one Lincoln was facing then.
In spite of being the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth, we have “trouble in paradise.” Americans are more depressed and unhappy now than ever before. One in five Americans — over 60 million — will battle major depression in their lifetime.
Roughly every 11 minutes, someone in America commits suicide. According to statistics— and these are conservative estimates — 1.4 million people attempt suicide every year. In fact, there are more suicides than homicides.
I mention depression and suicide because they reflect the internal state of our nation, and they tell us the answer for America’s problems is not a political one. It is spiritual. We need to turn back to God.
While some people may think of a crusade as a relic of a bygone era, let me tell you, tens of thousands of people still show up every year to our events. I believe they do because they are searching for hope and meaning in this chaotic world we live in, and the gospel offers answers to their deepest questions. The gospel has always been, and will always be, the greatest hope for humanity.
As America celebrates July 4th, I pray we remember our need for God. We need to turn back to the True and only God — the same God our founding fathers invoked when they established this nation.
There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None.
By Glenn T. Stanton JUNE 27, 2019
Legislators in California have discovered yet another way to make it clear that mainstream religions holding to the sexual teachings of their sacred texts have no business doing so in the Golden State. Why? Because these faiths, which billions of good people worldwide happily hold, do not embrace homosexuality. This includes the three largest: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
In a resolution that recently passed the state assembly, “the Legislature calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance” of LGBT people. It singles out especially faith-motivated individuals and organizations.
These legislators make a very ugly accusation against such people. California lawmakers are planning to spread the idea, with the power and moral authority of the state, that such religious beliefs actually kill people, including children. The text of this bill boldly states:
WHEREAS, The stigma associated with being LGBT often created by groups in society, including therapists and religious groups, has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBT and questioning individuals…
Note the absoluteness of their conclusions, particularly two words: create and cause. Stigma, created by religious groups, causes high rates of suicide.
Do Religious People Make Others Commit Suicide?
Let it sink in. Christians, Muslims, and Jews, your beliefs make gay people kill themselves. If this is indeed true, we are among the worst of the worst kinds of people. These legislators believe this is true and are doing something about it. California is trying to insist that churches, synagogues and mosques, their leaders, congregants, grade schools, universities, and families fully and uncritically support homosexual, bisexual, and transgender identities in every way.
Thus, any teaching, preaching, writings or practices that are faithful to the clear sexual instructions of these faiths will be beyond the pale of official California values. They will not be tolerated. This charge makes this legislation overwhelmingly serious and consequential because of the seriousness of this charge. Either one party is directly culpable for deaths or the other of making such a dreadful allegation.
To be clear, what they’re proposing is a resolution and would not have the razor-sharp edge of law. But it would have the real and devastating blunt force of state-sanctioned shaming of religious convictions. They couldn’t criminalize you, but they could obliterate your reputation and your life. There are too many vivid examples of this already. Of course, this resolution will grease the skids for it becoming enforceable law.
I want to demonstrate, through some objective and undeniable facts, coupled with simple reasoning, why this long-used accusation has no foundation. The case consists of three basic points:
There is simply no dependable research support for the accusation. None.
Gay and lesbian individuals themselves report being significantly more likely to choose to attend the very churches that teach a more traditional sexual ethic than they do so-called “welcoming and affirming” churches.
The most dramatically gay-friendly places in the world still have incredibly and disproportionately high rates of suicides among their gay and lesbian individuals.
1. No Real Evidence
There is no reputable, serious research showing people commit suicide because a particular religion refuses to embrace homosexuality. None. It is largely created as an ideological assumption and political cudgel. But to even question the assertion will cast you immediately as a heartless stone. Remember, any science that does not permit it to be questioned has become fundamentalist dogmatism.
There is a very small amount of literature on the general harms of family rejection (which we at Focus on the Family strongly advise against), but none showing it causessuicide. There is certainly none establishing religious causation. That is an objective fact. Quite simply, anyone making the claim family responses and religious teaching cause suicide do so absent any bit of scientific proof.
2. LGBT People Choose More Traditional Churches
Let’s look at data that raise serious questions about the “religion kills” assertion. Research done by two gay-friendly scholars from Columbia and the University of California at Los Angeles found that, to their absolute disbelief, church-attending, same-sex-attracted individuals are 2.5 times more likely to attend congregations that hold and teach a more traditional, biblical view of sexuality than they are to attend so-called welcoming and affirming churches.
Let’s consider the implications of this interesting finding. Suppose for a moment that the “religion kills” accusation is correct. Either these individuals are too dull to realize they are doing grave harm to themselves by regularly attending such churches, or they find such churches are quite lovely and helpful. Why else would they choose to wake up early on a Sunday morning and go to the trouble of getting themselves there?
This study’s abstract states, “Guided by minority stress theory, the authors hypothesized that exposure to non-affirming religious settings would lead to higher internalized homophobia, more depressive symptoms, and less psychological well-being.” They were honest in admitting they found “There was no main effect of non-affirming religion on mental health, an unexpected finding discussed in this article.” No main effect on mental health itself, much less suicide.
3. Gay-Affirming Societies Also Have High Suicide Rates
Leading gay activists and their faithful allies in the media and academia operate on a simple and seemingly reasonable premise: non-acceptance of homosexuality leads to greater levels of suicide. To reduce these tragic rates, replace non-acceptance with full affirmation and all will be well. Doing so would not only dramatically reduce suicide, but also the disproportionately higher levels of mental illness among this population, which are strongly and consistently documented. (See here, here and here for just three strong examples.)
This thesis is easy to test: Determine the most gay-affirming places in the world. Are the suicide rates of gay and lesbian individuals in these places significantly lower than in non-affirming countries?
The most gay-affirming places on the planet are the Netherlands and Scandinavia. In Amsterdam, the gay movement has received every major law, policy, or cultural accommodation they’ve requested, with nearly no opposition, and often with great celebration. They televise their annual gay pride parade, and Amsterdam spends more than a million euros a year to promote itself as “The Gay Capital of the World.” The land of windmills and tulips is gay Valhalla.
Their gay and lesbian suicide rates should be extremely low, if non-existent, right? That is not what scholars, government officials, and clinicians find. Rates of suicide and suicidal ideation among gay youth and adults are remarkably, tragically high in the Netherlands. Scholars even have a name for this. They call it the “Dutch Paradox.”
Despite the Netherlands’ reputation as a world leader with respect to gay rights, homosexual Dutch men have much higher rates of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts than heterosexual Dutch men. Epidemiologists report similar disparitieselsewhere in Western Europe and North America. [Emphasis mine.]
Let’s look at just a few examples of evidence. A 2006 Dutch study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that despite living “in a country with a comparatively tolerant climate regarding homosexuality” gay and lesbian-identified people were at dramatically higher risk for suicidality than the general Dutch population.
More recently, a 2016 Swedish study shows that the rate of gay males suffering from lifetime suicidal ideation there is 140 percent greater. The same measure for women there is 110 percent higher than the general population. Bisexuals are curiously even higher, with females 250 percent more likely and bisexual men 160 percent.
In France, fourth on the world’s gay-friendly list, gays and lesbians are on average 80 percent more likely to suffer suicidal ideation than their straight peers. All countries that keep such data show similar findings, regardless of changes in attitudes and policies concerning LGB-identified individuals.
Do Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Affect Rates?
With greater specificity, a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology examined how legalizing gay-marriage affected suicidality. It should have reduced it, right? Yet Swedes in same-sex marriages, enjoying their anticipated greater social acceptance and security, retained suicide rates nearly three times that of their married opposite-sex peers. The authors caution these numbers are likely an underestimation. A similar study found that Danish men in legal same-sex unions had a dramatic eightfold increase in suicide deaths over opposite-sex married peers.
The fact of the matter is this: There is no research whatsoever demonstrating significantly reduced rates of suicidal deaths or attempts among gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people as the overall acceptance or affirmation of these groups in a country increases. Any honest person who knows this literature well will admit it.
Thus, this is the conclusion that must be admitted: If the “acceptance of homosexuality equals reduction of suicide” thesis has any validity to it, a society would need to far exceed the acceptance, affirmation, and even celebratory actions of the Netherlands and other countries to demonstrate it. Of course, this is reasonably impossible. What is there left to do that these countries are not already doing?
Reasonable people, even those in the gay rights movement, must call for a sharp end to the absolutely vile and false accusation that certain mainstream religious traditions are culpable for the deaths of gay and lesbian people. The Bible Belt does not run through Amsterdam, Stockholm, or Copenhagen.
We must admit that something else is driving the tragically high suicide rates of our gay and lesbian neighbors, and it’s not traditional faith convictions. True compassion demands we find out what that cause is; these lives are too valuable to play baseless politics with.
Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.
My journey from the criminal underworld to the foot of the cross.
ALLEN LANGHAM| MAY 17, 2019
Six years ago—lost, broken, alone, and suicidal—I was the empty shell of a once-promising rugby player, shuffling around an exercise yard in a London prison. I was a man of extreme violence who had done seven stretches behind bars.
One morning around that time, I watched a flock of birds take off from a ledge outside my cell. Right then, I knew God was real—and that he had reached down to rescue me from the pit of hell.
A Ticking Time Bomb
As a child, there was violence everywhere I turned. My mother had been widowed by her first husband, abused for 20 years by her second, and deserted by my father (whom she never married) when I was eight months old. She and my two sisters surrounded me with love—I was the little favorite of the family. But she was also a harsh disciplinarian and liberally wielded what we called “the Allen stick” to keep me under control.
Throbbing with anger and resentment toward my absent father, I was constantly getting into scraps with neighborhood bullies, hoping to earn their respect. I was also abused several times: by a family friend, by a boy across the road, and by a man I can’t say much about because I’ve blocked the worst details from my memory.
I had some means of escape. Often I would skip school to go fishing or run off to the woods and dress up as an Army sergeant major, shouting commands at the other kids and exerting control to hide my inner pain. I loved sports and showed potential from an early age. And on Sundays, I would venture out on my own to attend church. At home I was fatherless and abused, but there I felt safe and at peace.
One morning, alerted by the shrieks of my eldest sister, I came downstairs to find my mother dead on the sofa, the victim of a cerebral hemorrhage. Something snapped in me that day—I was only 14—that put me on the road to destruction for the next 20 years.
I went to three schools, getting expelled from the first two for unmanageable behavior. By the time I left home at 16, I was a ticking time bomb—angry, bitter, and lost. My sister ran pubs, and I started down the path of drinking, gambling, and fighting, emulating the “gangster” lifestyle. This was my idea of what it meant to be a man.
But I excelled at rugby, and at 17 I signed a professional contract with Sheffield Eagles. Soon enough, I had far more money than good sense. Craving acceptance from members of the criminal underworld I perversely thought of as “family,” I began fighting for money, selling drugs, collecting debts for dealers, and generally bullying and intimidating my way through life. I walked into my first prison term as a lost little boy trapped inside a professional rugby player’s body.
A Hostile World
It didn’t take long for prison to turn me into a hardened criminal. It was a hostile world—physically, mentally, and emotionally—where only the fittest survived. In prison I developed a heroin addiction, which left me alienated from my firstborn daughter and her mother.
Between sentences, I went chasing the bright lights of London but ended up sleeping on the streets of the Strand. Without the “good fortune” of being sent back, I might have died. Back in custody, spurred forward by a picture of my daughter on my cell wall, I resolved to rebuild my life. During the next two years, I caught up on my schooling and got clean from heroin. But after the next release, I soon returned to my old ways. The vicious merry-go-round kept spinning: drinking, drugs (now cocaine), partying, violence, sex, and before long, a trip back to the slammer.
During my stints in prison, I was always drawn to the chapel. I considered it a place of refuge, just as church had offered a safe haven from the tumult of my childhood. Over the years, I experimented with everything: Buddhism, Hinduism, spiritualism, counseling, course after course, medication—but nothing worked. I was still a wreck. Despite my burning desire to change, I couldn’t find any peace or stability.
Eventually, after stabbing a number of fellow inmates, I landed in Belmarsh, a top-security prison in southeast London. I hated who I had become. With my violent outbursts and paranoid behavior, I had pushed away anyone I ever cared for—and put my family through hell. I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually broken. Outwardly, I sought “respect” by lashing out against anyone or anything in my way. But on the inside, I remained a lost little boy in desperate need of love and acceptance.
While awaiting trial in a kidnapping and hostage-taking case, I finally hit rock bottom and decided to commit suicide. With tears streaming down my face, I dropped to my knees and made one final plea to God: “If you’re real and you hear me, put a white dove outside my prison window. Show me you are with me!” At the time, I had no conception of the dove being a symbol for the Holy Spirit. I was only looking for some sign of hope and new beginnings.
The next morning, when a flock of pigeons lifted off the nearby ledge, I saw the dove sitting there. Something inside me jumped, and tears of joy replaced tears of despair.
After transferring to another prison in Leeds, I began praying and studying the Bible in earnest. Reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind, I stumbled across a chapter where Meyer describes taking the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, rolling it into a ball, and laying it at Jesus’ feet. I decided to do the same with my rage. Before going to sleep, I closed my eyes, imagined Jesus on the cross, balled up my rage, and surrendered it to him. When I awoke, I felt peace like never before.
The Long Refining
Being a Christian—and turning away from drinking, drugs, and sleeping around—hasn’t been easy. (It’s tough having a functioning conscience!) At first I was on fire for Christ, and my zeal would outrun my better judgment. I would strike up conversations with complete strangers and probably put them off forever. I would go to pubs to tell people about Jesus and—still enslaved to old habits—end up drinking to excess. On one occasion, I found myself in bed with a woman after trying to share the gospel with her. I needed serious refining.
But God, in his patience, kept using this broken vessel for his purposes. He has given me the privilege of going into prisons—at first under the supervision of more mature Christians, then increasingly on my own—and testifying to the hope and forgiveness he offers. I have spoken to rooms full of men convicted of the most heinous crimes, including pedophiles and murderers, and seen them reduced to tears. At a key moment when I wondered where my life was going, God helped me launch a ministry (Steps to Freedom) that reaches out to young people abandoned by society. He let me return to my first love, sports, as a chaplain serving several teams.
Miraculously, God has even given me my family back. It has taken years, but one by one he has repaired broken relationships with my sisters and their families, with my three children, and with the father who deserted us so long ago.
The refining process has been long and hard. But bit by bit, it’s polishing me into a trophy of God’s grace.
Allen Langham is the author of Taming of a Villain: A Message of Hope (Lion Hudson).