Thursday, July 07, 2016

Utah's High Teen Suicide Rate

Folks in the LGBT community are on a campaign to frame the high suicide rate among Utah's teens as an LGBT issue.

While framing the suicides as an LGBT issue might advance the LGBT cause, it does nothing to help the kids who committed suicide or help use prevent suicide.

A group called The New Civil Rights Movement claims that 32 LGBT kids (most in Utah) committed suicide because of a political policy by the LDS Church.

I find the claim bogus because suicide is a lot more complicated than that. For one thing, we don't even really know if these particular kids were gay.

I need to point out that, after a suicide, parents are likely to look for a cause. If a group is out providing a cause to explain the event, the parents are likely to latch on to the cause even if it wasn't the cause.

I've known several Mormons who've committed suicide. In every case, their story was complex. Trying to boil the event down to a simple cause doesn't do any good. Imagine the conversation at the ward house:

Parent: "My son committed suicide because he was gay."
Bishop: "We are so sorry to hear your son was gay."
Parent: "My son's sexual identity was such a hardship on the family, alas, alas."

The conversation shows the issue being used as a scapegoat to avoid having to ask the real questions behind the suicide.

IBIS by the Utah Health Department reports that there's been an average of 557 suicides in Utah by year (that's 20.8 per 100,000 people). There are 3181 visits to the emergency room for self inflicted wounds.

Utah has a higher than average suicide rate. There is reason to believe that religions is involved. The Doctrine and Covenant of the LDS Church states:

28 Thou knowest my laws concerning these things are given in my scriptures; he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out.

Mormons are taught to ostracize the people who are not in good graces with their faith. My experience is that this culture of ostracism leads to all sorts of problems and not just problems for the LGBT community.

The Utah suicide problem is not a simple issue that some people identify as LGBT and that LGBT people need special treatment and special privileges. The suicide problem is due to social climate in which a powerful group, the LDS Church, is trying to maintain control by "casting people out" as is described in the D&C.

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