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Reaching out to our Youth in Post-Policy Mormonism

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9 minutes ago, rockpond said:

And your response to the increase in LDS LGBT youth suicides since the policy?

Is to wonder about the support system these children are provided with.
Every child should have people they can turn to.  And that means ALL of us making ourselves available.

Can we all do better in providing support, counseling, and comfort to troubled souls from all walks of life?  You bet we can, and we need to.
That's what Christ would have done.

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1 hour ago, salgare said:

Perhaps you should read the article

I read it.  Here are my thoughts:

1. I echo Storm's concern about and disgust with the exploitation of suicides as a rhetorical weapon against the LDS Church.  Rockpond has done this before (see here, here, here, here and here), but he apologized.  So it's disappointing to see a return to such an unseemly and repellant tactic.

2. The "statistic," such as it is, appears to be utterly unsubstantiated.  And from a source that is publicly hostile to the LDS Church.  And it's presented with much melodramatic fanfare ("Thirty-four in 84 days is a stunning statistic. It’s horrifying. And gut-wrenching.").

3. I question the purported objectivity of the author.  She's publicly pushing an agenda adverse to the LDS Church.  So while I appreciate good faith calls to rally around our children, I have a hard time giving such a benefit of the doubt to this author.  Note how she calls for bipartisan cessation of arguing about this issue in the first few paragraphs, but by paragrpah 7 she is only berating just one side (the side supporting the Church's doctrinal teachings and position).  And she does so in a way that characterizes such people as cold and unfeeling and indifferent to teen suicide.  And then she sets herself up as a superior moral voice to correct the inbred yahoos who have the temerity to include in their analysis the Church's doctrinal teachings on this subject.  And she does so by . . . get this . . . quoting Shakespeare ("Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"), followed by a condescending offer to "clue ... in" the cretins who include revealed truths in their assessment of this issue.  She then presumes to call such persons (again, only the people who presume to disagree with her) to repentance ("Stop arguing doctrine and go live the gospel. Stop trumpeting 'righteousness' and start ministering to the wounded.") and even questions their sincerity (note the scare quotes around "righteousness" in the above sentence).

4. My sense is that this post is just another attempt to adroitly persuade the Saints to disregard the counsel from the Brethren, and to follow what the world is saying about issues pertaining to same-sex attraction.  It's a classic move:

  • First, you start with a topic that *nobody* could find objectionable.  Caring for the welfare of children fits the bill.  
  • Second, make broad, unquantifiable, emotion-based accusations about the topic to induce guilt in the target audience.  In the post the author takes as established, quantified, fact that "34 LDS LGBT young people between the ages of 14 and 20 have committed suicide."  She even puts this point in bold.  She then says "Here’s the newsflash: every one of us has culpability for these deaths if we are not actively, openly doing all we can to reduce them."  Yep, that works.  
  • Third, introduce an innocuous-sounding suggestion that we do *something* (nice and vague) to resolve the problem.  Here, the author accuses "every one of us" of "culpability" for teen suicides unless we do *something* ("all we can") about them.  Check this one off.
  • Fourth, at some point switch the nebulous, vague, innocuous-sounding suggestion that we do "something" ("all we can") with something more specific.  And I suspect that "something more specific" will, in this matter, include taking a position which will in some material respects oppose or otherwise be hostile to the LDS Church, its doctrines and/or leaders.
  • Fifth, once you have established item four above, you are at liberty to set yourself up as a moral voice alternate and superior to that of the Brethren.  Because if you don't agree with the author of this blog post, or if you *dare* to support the Church in its teachings about same-sex attraction, then the foregoing steps establish, as axiomatic truth, that you hate children and want them to commit suicide.

Nice, eh?

5. The judgmentalism of the author against people who disagree with her, coupled with her feigned appeal to objectivity and her sanctimony . . . stink.  All people of good conscience find suicide to be a terrible and horrific tragedy.  The author's exploitation of such an explosive and emotional issue in an attempt to gain rhetorical advantage over people who, in good faith and with good reason, may disagree with her on issues about which there is plenty of room for principled disagreement . . . is repugnant.  We have seen this particular cudgel used over and over and over.  Heck, Rockpond, the guy who started this thread, has done it.  Scott Lloyd posted an interesting thread about "Emotional Blackmail."  Here's the link.  It's worth a read.  In it I posted the following as an example of what I think Scott had in mind:

Quote

 

>> Rockpond: And, of course, there are the "surprising number of active, faithful members of the church who have SSA" either left the church and/or chosen to end their lives under the crushing weight of our loving and compassionate outreach.

> Smac97: Ah, I was wondering when the unfortunately-frequent "Hey, Mormons! Either change your doctrines or I'll kill myself and blame you for it!" trope would be trotted out.

> When it comes to people with SSA - and specifically young Latter-day Saints with SSA, I think it is tragic that some of these brothers and sisters are treated poorly by some because of that orientation. And I am appalled and saddened that anyone would kill themselves for any reason, including despairing Latter-day Saints. However, I firmly believe that homosexual conduct is not compatible with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also believe that there is a concerted effort to legitimize homosexual conduct and undermine any organization that feels differently. I also believe that this concerted effort bears substantial responsibility for inculcating vulnerable Latter-day Saints (those with same-sex attraction) with the notion that their orientation is either compatible with or superior in importance to the Restored Gospel.

> At the end of the day, the Restored Gospel prohibits homosexual behavior (along with many other sexual behaviors). Consequently, people who advocate the notion that same-sex behavior is compatible with the Restored Gospel exhibit a profound lack of judgment. In attempting to alleviate despair among young Latter-day Saints with SSA, I fear that these folks may be tacitly recommending a course of action that will only deepen that despair and lead young LDS away from the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

I have also previously said this (speaking of an article by Carol Lynn Pearson, which was fairly similar in tone and tactics to the article in the OP):

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Frankly, I dislike what I see as the GRMs (Gay Rights Movement) exploitation of these suicides. Their websites and books trumpet these suicides as epidemic, as being caused primarily by ostracism/homophobia (with no mention of other factors, including those possibly arising out of gay culture).

It comes across as cynical arm-twisting of a rather revolting sort. "Hey, Mormons! Either change your doctrines or I'll kill myself and blame you for it!"

I am appalled and saddened that anyone would kill themselves for any reason. I think it is tragic that Latter-day Saints with same-sex orientation are treated poorly because of that orientation. However, I firmly believe that homosexual conduct is not compatible with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also believe that there is a concerted effort to legitimize homosexual conduct and undermine any organization that feels differently. I also believe that this concerted effort bears substantial responsibility for inculcating vulnerable Latter-day Saints (those with same-sex attraction) with the notion that their orientation is either compatible with or superior in importance to the Restored Gospel.

...

Confidential Informant has provided statistics showing that acceptance and love of gays does not decrease the levels of suicide and other maladies common in gays and which are regularly blamed by folks like Sis. Pearson on "bigotry." See here: 

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According to a study in the Netherlands where homosexuality has been accepted and mainstreamed for years, homosexual behavior significantly increases the likelihood of psychiatric, mental and emotional disorders, negating the mindset that society's lack of tolerance of homosexual behavior and lifestyle produces these psychoses. Youth are four times more likely to suffer major depression, almost three times as likely to suffer generalized anxiety disorder, nearly four times as likely to experience conduct disorder, four times as likely to commit suicide, five times as likely to have nicotine dependence, six times as likely to suffer multiple disorders, and more than six times as likely to have attempted suicide. (Study of 5,998 Dutch adults) Theo G.M. Sandforte et al., "Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence," Archives of General Psychiatry 58, 10 (2001): 85-91.

Researchers found "an elevated suicide risk for homosexuals" even in tolerant Denmark. Ping Qin, Esben Agerbo, and Preben Bo Mortensen, "Suicide Risk in Relation to Socioeconomic, Demographic, Psychiatric, and Familial Factors: A National Register-Based Study of All Suicides in Denmark, 1981-1997." American Journal of Psychiatry 160 (2003): 765-772.

 

 

More here:

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Quote

 

American Journal of Epidemiology:
Active Latter-day Saints Seven Times Less Likely to Commit Suicide

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology 2002;155:413-419. Write-up in: "High Religious Commitment Linked to Less Suicide", by Charnicia E. Huggins (Reuters Health), Daily News (6 March 2002), URL: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20020 ... ion_1.html

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young Mormon men living in Utah who closely adhere to the dictates of their faith are less likely to commit suicide than their peers who are less active in the church, study findings show.

The Mormon Church is known formally as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

For more than 10 years, 15- to 34-year-old males in Utah have had suicide rates markedly higher than those seen nationally. In fact, in the early to mid-1990s, suicide was the number one cause of death among 25- to 44-year-old men in the state and the second-leading cause of death among men aged 15 to 24.

"These results provide evidence that a low level of religious commitment is a potential risk factor for suicide," Dr. Sterling C. Hilton of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and his colleagues write in the March 1st issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

 

Hmm. The Latter-day Saints who are at increased risk for suicide, then, are those who do not live according to the teachings of the LDS Church.

Put another way, the teachings of the LDS Church decrease the risk of suicide.  This kinds contradicts the whole "We gotta let homosexuals ditch the Law of Chastity, else they'll kill themselves" narrative.

 

More here: 

Quote

 

Previous studies have used population data to demonstrate an inverse association between suicide rates and religious commitment. This report examines Utah suicide rates for young men aged 15–34 years, stratified by their membership in and commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the predominant religion in Utah. All state death records for males from 1991 to 1995 were obtained and linked to LDS church deceased membership records to obtain a measure of religious commitment that is not self-reported. Religious commitment for LDS church members was determined by age-appropriate priesthood office. Of the 27,738 male deaths reported, 15,555 (56%) linked to an LDS church record using a probabilistic linking program. Using active (high religious commitment) LDS as the reference group, the less-active (low religious commitment) LDS group had relative risks of suicide ranging from 3.28 (ages 15–19 years) to 7.64 (ages 25–29 years); nonmembers of the LDS church had relative risks ranging from 3.43 (ages 15–19 years) to 6.27 (ages 20–24 years). Although the mechanism of the association is unclear, higher levels of religiosity appear to be inversely associated with suicide.

So if Ms. Pearson is so concerned about homosexuals committing suicide, why isn't she encouraging them to to maintain high levels of religious observance? And why is she (and her compatriots) instead trying to persuade/cajole the LDS Church into altering its teachings about homosexuality when living in accordance with those teachings appears to lower the risk of suicide?
...
In sum:

1. According to studies noted above, observant Latter-day Saints have a decreased risk of suicide. And yet Ms. Pearson wants the LDS Church to change the very teachings whereby such decreased risk is developed.

2. Ms. Pearson makes outrageous allegations against the LDS Church, accusing it and its members of acting like Nazis and the murderers involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

3. Ms. Pearson is placing culpability for LDS gays committing suicide at the feet of the LDS Church and its members, while disregarding the established link between homosexuality and increased risk of suicide. She has nothing to say about encouraging homosexuals to alter their behavior to conform to the teachings of the LDS Church (even though, as noted above, such observance would probably lower their suicide risk).

 

6. So yeah, all in all I am not favorably disposed to the article.  While I think it is possible to address suicide amongst LDS youth in good faith and in healthy and productive ways, this article doesn't do it.  Doesn't even come close.  It reeks of judgmentalism against the Saints.  It is a clumsy effort at guilt-tripping the Saints into disregarding the doctrines of the Church and the counsel of the Brethren.

And for disliking the article I now expect to be accused of wanting children to murder themselves.  In 3 .... 2 .... 1 ....

Thanks,

-Smac

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22 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I don't think the author of the essay would disagree with what you've written here.  I don't.  But what you've written here also does nothing to address this recent increase in LDS LGBT youth suicides.

I wouldn't expect any disagreement. Your OP isn't about addressing "this recent increase in LDS LGBT youth suicides" but about "an important read and good perspective." The article was not an important read, and demonstrates a poor perspective in the ways I pointed out.

Are you now asking me to address it differently than I said I am? How is what I said I am doing not addressing it? I don't see you addressing it at all!

Edited by CV75

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2 hours ago, rockpond said:

Did you actually read the essay?  That's not the point of it, at all.

I've been hearing about these suicide counts from the Mama Dragons for some time now and never posted for reasons you highlight above.  But this essay pleads for all of us to just be more aware, to reach out, to look out, and to be kind.

As she says, regardless of your feelings about the policy or church teachings on the matter, we all need to help youth who suffer.

And in other news, circles are round and water is wet.

The question is not about whether we should be helping children cope with issues of depression, suicide, etc.  It is, frankly, insulting and galling to imply that we would have a contrary opinion.

The question is not the ends, but the means.  The problem with the article is that it wants to guilt Latter-day Saints into accepting "means" which are contrary/opposed to the doctrines of the Church and the counsel of the Brethren.

I'm all for being "kind."  That would include, perhaps, not accusing good and decent people of being "culpable" for teen suicides.  Or blaming the LDS Church for teen suicides.  Just a thought.

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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22 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Is to wonder about the support system these children are provided with.
Every child should have people they can turn to.  And that means ALL of us making ourselves available.

Can we all do better in providing support, counseling, and comfort to troubled souls from all walks of life?  You bet we can, and we need to.
That's what Christ would have done.

What you've written here is the message I got from the essay... and the reason I decided to post it to a thread.

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13 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I read it.  Here are my thoughts:

1. I echo Storm's concern about and disgust with the exploitation of suicides as a rhetorical weapon against the LDS Church.  Rockpond has done this before (see here, here, here, here and here), but he apologized.  So it's disappointing to see a return to such an unseemly and repellant tactic.

Sharing an article that provides data is not making an accusation.  Draw whatever conclusion you feel is appropriate.  The article is just a plea.

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11 minutes ago, rockpond said:

What you've written here is the message I got from the essay... and the reason I decided to post it to a thread.

I'm guessing that the vast majority of church members agree with what JLHPROF said and you seconded. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that 95% (that's probably low) support the idea of helping kids feel loved and supported so suicide is less tempting.

Given that, if that is the whole point of the article, why did it even need to be written in the first point?

 

 

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This essay doesn't blame the church.  Brothers ans Sisters ALL of us are responsible and some accountable for eachother. 

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1 minute ago, bluebell said:

I'm guessing that the vast majority of church members agree with what JLHPROF said and you seconded. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that 95% (that's probably low) support the idea of helping kids feel loved and supported so suicide is less tempting.

Given that, if that is the whole point of the article, why did it even need to be written in the first point?

To bring awareness to a problem that seems to have gotten worse over the past couple months.  That's why I posted it here.

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46 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Sharing an article that provides data is not making an accusation.  Draw whatever conclusion you feel is appropriate.  The article is just a plea.

Carol Lynn Pearson has previously exploited "gay suicides" to criticize the LDS Church.  So have you.  So, it appears, does the author of the article in the OP (or, more particularly, she criticizes and judges church members who incorporate the doctrines of the Church and the counsel from the Brethen as they address these issues).  So I'm not sure that the article is "just a plea."  Water is wet, circles are round, and Latter-day Saints should care about the welfare of children.  These are all axioms.  We don't need "a plea" in order to be set straight about them.  So the "plea" appears to be something else.  And that something else appears to be aimed at guilt-tripping a particular type of Mormon - the kind that incorporate the Church's doctrines and counsel from the Brethren when addressing difficult and sensitive issues.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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11 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Sharing an article that provides data is not making an accusation.  Draw whatever conclusion you feel is appropriate.  The article is just a plea.

If the article had stuck with just advocacy of treating suicidal children better. No one would object. I, and others,object to advocating that the Church change its doctrines, simply because some don't like them.

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1 minute ago, thesometimesaint said:

If the article had stuck with just advocacy of treating suicidal children better. No one would object. I, and others,object to advocating that the Church change its doctrines, simply because some don't like them.

CFR that she advocated changing doctrine.

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2 minutes ago, rockpond said:

To bring awareness to a problem that seems to have gotten worse over the past couple months.  That's why I posted it here.

Can you provide any evidence that a "problem" has gotten worse?

 

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Thanks smac for all that information.  I have not followed these arguments closely.  A can see the points you are making.  Being just over a year from feeling my mind ready to break, pistol in hand and getting a feel for the help available in SLC, Utah at that time I'm too biased too see anything but those suffering.

I truly do hope the hearts of the members are softening.  Even one is too many.

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1 minute ago, rockpond said:

To bring awareness to a problem that seems to have gotten worse over the past couple months.  That's why I posted it here.

I didn't see it in the article and maybe i missed it, but where are the statistics for gay LDS youth suicides for the last few years? 

Are those available somewhere?

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2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Water is wet, circles are round, and Latter-day Saints should care about the welfare of children.

All true which is why we should care about an increase in youth suicides.

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1 minute ago, Danzo said:

Can you provide any evidence that a "problem" has gotten worse?

 

The first paragraph of the essay makes the case.

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5 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

This essay doesn't blame the church.  Brothers ans Sisters ALL of us are responsible and some accountable for eachother. 

Of course. Do you know anyone who doesn't already believe this?

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1 minute ago, bluebell said:

I didn't see it in the article and maybe i missed it, but where are the statistics for gay LDS youth suicides for the last few years? 

Are those available somewhere?

The Mama Dragons research is stated in the first paragraph of the essay.

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3 minutes ago, rockpond said:

All true which is why we should care about an increase in youth suicides.

We do care, rock, and that is the point. 

The author does her argument no favors when she condemns members of the Church who do in fact care. In fact, it is astounding that she could take something so universally good (preventing suicide) and surround the issue in contention by applying guilt and shame where it does not belong. 

But that is what she did.

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4 minutes ago, rockpond said:

The first paragraph of the essay makes the case.

I looked at the linked article and there is no support for the numbers.

In the author's comments, it is admitted that there is no support or documentation for the numbers.

 

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1 minute ago, rockpond said:

The Mama Dragons research is stated in the first paragraph of the essay.

They are giving their conclusions in that paragraph. They don't seem to share their actual research anywhere though. 

They provide no citations or references to support their statements (that I have found yet). 

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3 minutes ago, Mystery Meat said:

We do care, rock, and that is the point. 

The author does her argument no favors when she condemns members of the Church who do in fact care. In fact, it is astounding that she could take something so universally good (preventing suicide) and surround the issue in contention by applying guilt and shame where it does not belong. 

But that is what she did.

If you care, than why does the article bother you?  How does she apply guilt and shame where it does not belong?

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6 minutes ago, rockpond said:

All true which is why we should care about an increase in youth suicides.

To help me make the point, let me take one short snippet of her article:

Quote

Some of you probably are shouting in your heads, “But the Bible says acting on homosexuality is a sin!” or “Homosexuality is contrary to the plan of salvation!”

In my head I hear: Out, damned spot! Out, I say

Now imagine that Dan Peterson posted this article on ldsliving.com and the above was replaced with the following:

Quote

Some of you probably are shouting in your heads, “But the Bible says to Love everyone!” or “These policies are inconsistent with the Savior's teachings!”

In my head I hear: Out, damned spot! Out, I say

Hardly unbiased and without agenda, am I right? She actually hurts her argument and her agenda is exposed.

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The first paragraph of the essay makes the case.

Well no, it doesn't.  There is an utterly unsubstantiated statistic.  That's all.  And the source of the statistic is an an individual representing an agenda-driven group hostile to the doctrines and policies of the LDS Church, an individual who - according to a comment by the article's author - claims to "[have] had personal contact with each of the families of these suicide victims," who is "likely the only person/place/institution that is focusing directly on these numbers," and who has purportedly "has assured them [the families of the suicide victims] privacy."

The reality of teen suicide is not in dispute.  An increase in teen suicide by LDS kids after last fall's change to the CHI, however, is in dispute (which change, I might add, was only made a part of the public consciousness because critics and enemies of the LDS Church harped on it for weeks on end and vilified the LDS Church to an extreme degree, and who therefore are substantially responsible for fomenting an environment of angst and distortion that may have contributed to teens struggling with same-sex attraction).

So no, an unsubstantiated, because-I-say-so-and-trust-me-despite-my-hostility-to-the-LDS-Church-'cuz-I-can't-reveal-my-sources assertion of an increase does not "make the case."

Thanks,

-Smac

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