About that claim of suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction

You may have heard the claim that there have been at least 32 suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction since the Church made the now well-known changes in the handbook.

I’d like to make a few comments about that claim.

First, and this should be obvious but it still bears repeating: every suicide is a tragedy, for the person and for the person’s family. I agree with the Church spokesman who said that every soul is precious to God and the loss of life to suicide is heartbreaking.

But second, the people who are trumpeting the claims are well-established critics of the Church who are reporting from people they claim have talked to them privately. No independent confirmation of these numbers has taken place. You, dear reader, can choose to believe what you want, but based on my life’s experience, I simply don’t believe that these people are telling the truth. Given the ghoulish way that they are glorying in their claims (which in their minds confirm their opinion that the Church is bad, bad, BAD), is it beyond the pale to believe that they have simply made things up? I think not.

None other than the Salt Lake Tribune, always anxious to find ways to criticize the Church, went looking for information to corroborate the claim of “32 suicides.” But, in a strange twist, actual journalism took place at the Tribune, and they were forced to report that there is no evidence of that many of suicides:

Trouble is, the number far exceeds the suicide figures collected by the Utah Department of Health.

Preliminary figures for November and December show 10 suicides in the Beehive State for people ages 14 to 20, with two more cases “undetermined.”

In fact, the department reports, the overall number of Utah deaths for that age group in those months was 25, including the 10 suicides and two “undetermined” cases, along with 11 in accidents, one by natural causes and one homicide.

“We monitor the numbers [of youth suicides] very closely. We review them every month,” says Teresa Brechlin, who works in the department’s violence- and injury-prevention program. “If we had seen such a huge spike, we would have been investigating it.”

Had there been any mention of the LDS Church’s policy on gays, her department “would have noted that,” Brechlin adds. “We have not seen that at all.”

But third, the people involved ignore the obvious reality that suicide is a complex psychological problem that simply cannot be attributed to one cause in a person’s life. It might be instructive to read this post.

Do you realize that by no research or academic standard would a simple causal factor be seen as responsible for any given suicide – even those that appear to have an obvious instigator (see below). That may be the one thing that everyone in the suicide literature actually agrees on: taking a life is an inherently complex matter (even when it seems simple).

Here’s more from that post:

That’s probably one reason the excellent guidelines produced by the Trevor Project and collaborators, “Talking About Suicide and LGBT Populations” discourage any kind of simplistic sharing when it comes to suicide, noting that “Some coverage…has oversimplified or sensationalized a number of the underlying issues, and in some cases may have created the potential for suicide contagion risk.” They go on to say:

DON’T attribute a suicide death to experiences known or believed to have occurred shortly before the person died. The underlying causes of most suicide deaths are complex and not always immediately obvious. Making hasty assumptions about those causes, even when based on comments from family or friends or media reports, can result in statements that are later proven to be inaccurate. Don’t risk perpetuating false or misleading information by jumping to conclusions about the reasons for a particular suicide death. Also, directly attributing a suicide to bullying or another negative life event can increase contagion risk among vulnerable individuals who have similar experiences.
DON’T normalize suicide by presenting it as the logical consequence of the kinds of bullying, rejection, discrimination and exclusion that LGBT people often experience.

I would like to quote at length from the above post, which was written by somebody who is a depression researcher, regarding many factors in suicides that do NOT receive attention:

In hopes of inviting a more productive conversation about these suicides, I list below five factors receiving virtually no attention in the current U.S. and Utah conversations about suicide (whether for teenagers or adults):

1. America’s depressogenic lifestyle. Researchers at Clark University and the University of Washington have argued that America’s average lifestyle is literally “giving birth” to despair – almost like a perfect “petri-dish” for depression. From a typical diet of low-nutrient, high-additive “food” and ongoing high-sugar drinks to regular habits of sleep deficiency and physical inactivity to an accelerating lifestyle that leaves precious little time for contemplation and mental/emotional rest…it’s hard not to agree with them! The brain can only take so many ‘insults’ before it gets pushed over the edge. Is it time for a public health approach to mental health, where we talk about the collective risk burden that is pushing so many of us (gay, straight, right, left, men, women, young, old) to the edge?

2. Anti-depressants and suicidal ideation. Since Robin Williams took his life, almost all national discussion about his death has focused on depression and other contributing disease states – and the need to “decrease stigma” for such illnesses. Universally, these recommendations come with gentle reminders to ‘get help’ and ‘get people into treatment’ sooner, earlier, more often. It’s remarkable that almost no mention has been made of the fact that Robin Williams was in treatment…the best psychiatric treatment available. Within a health education system often funded by pharmaceutical companies, it seems our priorities are not to explore the way anti-depressants have been shown to sometimes de-stabilize vulnerable individuals – including sometimes increasing the likelihood of suicidal thoughts – especially for teens, especially during a dosage change.[3] Can we have a more thoughtful conversation about the role anti-depressants can or ought to play in assisting those facing depression?

3. Digital and pornographic colonization of American life. Whether teen or adult, all Americans are now swimming in an environment unlike any before faced by previous generations. In addition to the sheer volume of digital stimulation (that everyone agrees is rewiring our brain), we’re living in a highly pornographic and sexualized environment. And this isn’t your “father’s porn”; a surprisingly high amount of porn that teens are consuming these days is violent, aggressive situations that depicts pleasure arising from acts that most humans (of any perspective) would consider degrading and objectifying. The darkness, despair and depression associated with compulsive digital consumption, to say nothing of compulsive pornography consumption – is increasingly acknowledged. Can we talk about that too?

4. Personal and social upheaval. For many, religious communities provide a powerful set of protective factors against some of these very toxic patterns in the surrounding culture. But what happens to these protective structures when a teen comes to identify as LGBT? These protections can quickly melt away – and not simply because religious people suddenly become hostile. The philosophical shift alone is profound. Describing his own coming out experience, one person said: “All [previous] teaching about my identity…was WRONG! I had so many ideas of what I thought my life was going to be like, and who I was going to be, and how I was going to be that for the world and those people that I loved and had grown up with. And as I grew up and as I figured out more about myself and who I was, I began to realize that that person that I had been raised to be was not who I actually was” (FB-KA, italics mine).


5. Seemingly Impossible Futures. Personal conflict is almost universal for teens growing up with same-sex attraction. When someone comes out and identifies as LGBT, some report a reduction in personal conflict moving forward. For others, however, this same move to identify as LGBT actually exacerbates the conflict further – to where it becomes profoundly paradoxical and even more impossible to reconcile – “a sharp, painful dilemma” one man called it, “with the contrast in teaching about the church” (FB-CH).

So, to sum up: Here’s what I see. I see a progressive culture, and many liberal Mormons, glomming on to a report of “32 suicides since the Church announced its policy change” that simply does not pass the test of basic common sense. The facts show that nowhere near 32 suicides has taken place. The people involved have an axe to grind and are using this report to encourage opposition to the Church. And the Church’s critics are ignoring the simple reality that the suicides, even if any of them took place, cannot honestly be attributed to a single event. There are a lot of other factors going on in the world (detailed above) that should be considered when discussing suicide.

It is also worth considering that the worldwide trends that actually are contributing to suicide are trends, in most cases, that the Church has warned about.

But there is one last point that may be worth considering: are progressive Mormons making the situation worse? The Church’s position is certainly not intended to make people with same-sex attraction feel unwanted. I would argue that the Church’s position is undeniably compassionate: why subject teens to unnecessary conflict with their parents over baptism when they are young? Why not wait until they have become legal adults able to make their own decisions? Why encourage same-sex behavior that will damage a person’s eternal progression? But instead of seeing the Church’s policy from a position of charity, progressive Mormons become attached to the secular belief that the Church is necessarily describing people with same-sex attraction as flawed and lesser beings.

By continually repeating the secular refrain that the Church sees people with same-sex attraction as flawed, progressive Mormons are reinforcing a message that hurts these people rather than helps them. Progressive Mormons may be contributing to teen suicide, rather than preventing it. God sees all people as having essential worth regardless of their choices. D&C 18:10: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” The Church reflects this and encourages people, because their worth is great, to follow the Lord’s commandments rather than break them. The prophets, because they have true charity, are looking to eternal values, not just to short-term decisions on a flawed Earth. We should follow the prophets.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

96 thoughts on “About that claim of suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction

  1. Thank you for this post. I too have been troubled by the ‘numbers’ but have not felt that there is enough information to state cause and effect. You are correct, we need to seek and find information ourselves and not be lead as sheep by the masses. No matter what, the issue of Suicide is heart-wrenching for all concerned. It is my hope that we all can reach out and love anyone who may be struggling or showing signs of possible suicide ideation.

  2. Very well done and very needed. Thank you for speaking truth. I have seen a few anecdotal stories which do seem to conflict and contradict one another. Things aren’t matching up and the stories aren’t being verified. As well, we have not heard anything from the other side of these stories—the family members and ecclesiastical leaders. No one is verifying these claims. I wish we could hear their side and learn of all the other factors involved (rather than jump to blame the church policy and our leaders). With such one sided stories and the very interesting timing with the updated Church policy and the reported suicides, I believe most members of the Church will agree with you. It does seem rather coincidental with the timing, doesn’t it? I think the info can easily be seen as misleading with the intent to point the blame squarely on the prophet and apostles.

  3. Great post, Geoff. It’s so *easy* for people to run with stats-they-like…and so *hard* to actually slow down the speeding confirmation bias train long enough to have a thoughtful conversation. Almost invariably, I’ve found thoughtful people disagreeing about all the big questions…including this one.

    Since you excerpted from the article, I’ve updated the part about anti-depressants, since I got uneasy about attempting to cover that ground with one paragraph. Here’s the replacement:
    “And yet, when depression or anxiety arise in our youth or adults, almost universally our cultural response is to somehow fight against the emotional pain itself in attempting to make it “go away”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajcZkwuQ8VE) – often without serious (enough) consideration of many of the root risk factors that give rise to deeply painful moods (http://www.alloflife.org/Our-Classes/All-of-Life-Inventories/)

    Also, I added a bit about learned hopelessness at the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvhS8IA2KaM

    Keep up the good work! Where do blogger like you and I hang out sometimes? (:

  4. I continue to believe that no discussion of LGBTQ youth suicides within Mormonism is complete without a thorough and hard-hitting analysis of the vocal crop of progressive writers who seem hell-bent on convincing their readership that LGBTQ youth cannot have happy, fulfilling, worthwhile lives while obeying the Law of Chastity as taught by the Church.

    It is not the Church that is telling gay Mormon youth that they have nothing left to live for; and it is not the Church that benefits politically when some of these youth accept that claim at face value and end their own lives.

    To be sure, there’s a lot of nuance involved and there’s a spectrum of ideological positions; but there is also more unmitigated evil at work than a lot of us are willing to admit. That revolting subset of LGBTQ “advocates” who shamelessly encourage and exploit such suicides for their own political ends or to assuage their own stunted consciences–or who invent such suicides when reality fails to provide enough useful case studies to sate their (blood) lust–need to be openly confronted and condemned. “Punch back twice as hard”, as a wise politician once suggested.

  5. I have seen many on Facebook lament that the Church is not tailoring its message to the “one” or to the LGBT members who need to hear messages of acceptance, hope and love. As Elder Bednar notes in the linked video, apostles are sent by the Lord throughout the world to find and speak to the one. He makes it clear, though, that those who wish to hear a message need to spiritually prepare so the Lord’s servant can deliver the message they need to hear. I would submit, therefore, that the leaders of the Church are going forth and speaking to the one…to those who have spiritually prepared to receive a message from the Lord, through one of His apostles.


  6. JimD, here is something to ponder: who would be most upset if it were proven beyond a doubt that the “32 suicides caused by Church policy” is a fabrication? Liberal, questioning and ex-Mormons, that is who. They *need* this to be true to justify their ideology and their opposition to the Church, so as I say they glom onto it and set aside all reasonable doubts. People who support the Church would be very happy if the fabrication were proven untrue — liberal, questioning and ex-Mormons would mourn. This is why their obsession with this subject is ghoulish and, as you say, evil.

  7. I blame John Dehlin. This revelation was never meant to be revealed. If Dehlin hadn’t revealed it, the suicides wouldn’t have happened. The blood is on his hands.

  8. JimD said, “…the vocal crop of progressive writers who seem hell-bent on convincing their readership that LGBTQ youth cannot have happy, fulfilling, worthwhile lives while obeying the Law of Chastity as taught by the Church. ”

    I find it interesting because no one is asking for an exception for heterosexual members of the church on Chastity, and yet, it’s the same standard we’re all being asked to live.

    I was single and chaste for a long time. It was hard. It was even harder in a Church which values family and being married juxtaposed with a sex-obsessed culture. It was hard to feel that cultural push from family and friends too to be married, “Why don’t you just find a husband?” (Yes, because it was that easy…) However, I did come to peace with my situation and knew I could be happy and chaste and an active LDS all at the same time.

    No one gets and exception to the commandments of God. But, God does help us keep them, if we ask, and are willing to follow. It does not help LDS-LGBT folks, or their families to advocate for anything less than keeping the standards of the Church and supporting the brethren.

  9. @BlameDehlin:

    Failed attempts at satire aside, the revealed policy merely restates a doctrinal position the Church has held for its entire existence. If anything, the church’s tone has softened palpably somewhat since the days of Kimball, Benson, Peterson, McConkie and Packer.

    If the gay Mormon suicide rate is indeed exploding, then it is due either to a) the increase in compassion and empathy by LDS leadership (in which case a return to the harshness of the good old 1970s and 1980s would seem warranted–to save lives, doncha know?), or b) a change/intensification/acceptance in rhetoric on the part of libertine progressives both in and out of the church.

  10. Yes, my bovine fecal matter detector was going DING DING DING DING when these media reports surfaced. At first I thought that perhaps my law school educational indoctrination was making me an inveterate skeptic, but then I quickly realized that all it takes is “simple logic” (to quote Spock) to apprehend that these claims didn’t have the *slightest* bit of authenticity or corroboration.

  11. This brou-ha-ha is reminiscent of the critics lying with statistics about the Utah suicide rate overall, when they compared it with the US average instead of with the western mountain states’ average. (IIRC, the Utah rate was higher than the US average, which the critics touted, but was lower than the rate in the western mountain states that are demographically/culturally alligned with Utah, which the critics did not point out. Since Utah has a higher percentage of Mormons than the other culturally/demographically similar western mountain states, the logical inference would be that Mormonism _reduces_ suicides, not increase it as the critics asserted. Essentially, the critics lied by using improperly selected comparisons.

  12. (Geoff, if you can find it, the previous M* article debunking the lie about Utah suicide stats would be good to link in the OP or a comment, since it linked to articles with the proper context/analysis. I’m too lazy to search for it myself.)

    JimD said, “…the vocal crop of progressive writers who seem hell-bent on convincing their readership that LGBTQ youth cannot have happy, fulfilling, worthwhile lives while obeying the Law of Chastity as taught by the Church. ”

    Then Joyce A said: “I find it interesting because no one is asking for an exception for heterosexual members of the church on Chastity, and yet, it’s the same standard we’re all being asked to live.”

    Yeah, the “poor little celibates” line rings hollow to the millions of hetero singletons, of all ages, in all religions, who live celibate lives.

    There is also an even bigger lie that nobody seems willing to address. Very few homosexuals, especially males, settle into paired-off relationships. (Even among married gay men today most marriages are “open” under certain agreed-upon situations.) Hyper-promiscuity, and short-term relationships are the norm. If long term relatinships were rare before SSM, then SSM really isn’t going to change it. The line “now that we can get married, we can have meaningful committed relationships” just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    And this, after progressives spent the last FOUR DECADES telling us you didn’t NEED “a piece of paper” to have a “long term meaningful relationship” ?

  13. Whatever helps you sleep at night. The number as of a few days ago was 34, probably more by now.
    You aren’t helping the problem, you are simply feeding the fire.

  14. Mama Dragon, please help us understand where the number comes from, why you believe it and why Utah state statistics do not support that number. I hope you can see that any discerning person is going to question a completely made up statistic pushed by people with an axe to grind. Especially when that statistic is contradicted by official state records. I also wonder how you sleep at night when pushing a narrative that is reinforcing the view that people with same sex attraction are of less worth than others. God is no respecter of persons, yet you are promoting the narrative that these people are of lesser worth. How could you do that?

  15. I agree that the numbers are a little tough to substantiate. I won’t say that the Mama Dragons made it up, but I can’t say they didn’t get them wrong either. I just don’t know.
    I also agree that the glomming onto the 33 suicides in 81 days meme is reinforcing the message that A) The church doesn’t have any use for the GLBT community, and B) Since the church doesn’t like you, the natural next step is suicide. It’s a message that, while well-intended, probably has less than desirable consequences. It’d be more effective if GLBT allies would simply promote love, acceptance, safety and well-being.

    All that said, to suggest that the church president “received revelation” on the matter is very, VERY hard to swallow, and I reject it. My bullcrap alarms were going off like crazy when Elder Nielsen asserted that. I have no doubt that they interpreted that God agreed with their biases and opinions. It wouldn’t be the first time. But at the end of the day, this ISN’T a helpful policy, and it IS hurting real people. It doesn’t speak of Christ, at all. Anyway, that’s my opinion.

  16. Depression is the number one cause of suicide in the U.S.. And as one who has suffered from depression (severely at times) I know what it’s like to feel suicidal because of the seeming crushing weight of the gospel. How many thousands of depressed individuals have killed themselves because life was just too difficult? And, out of those, how many were led in some measure, however small, to take their own lives because they felt they couldn’t live up to the gospel; couldn’t be what they thought God wanted them to be?

    Where’s the list? Where’s the numbers? Where’s the moral outrage?

  17. Joyce,

    You do realize that while it may have been difficult for you to be single, you at least knew that on any given day, you might meet the man of your dreams.

    If you are gay and a Mormon, you have to face that fact that if you do meet the man (or woman) of your dreams, you have to forget all about it.

    I think that makes up all the difference. A single heterosexual Mormon at least gets hope. That is more than a single gay or lesbian Mormon will ever have.

  18. Jayman, I have seen that argument before and I don’t think it works. There are many single Mormons who remain single well into their 40s, 50s and longer. Sheri Dew is a prominent example. I know several people who suffered severe depression in their 30s because they could not find an eternal companion. Some of them contemplated suicide. I don’t think it helps anybody to diminish their suffering. Joyce’s point — and it is valid — is that all people suffer temptations of different kinds. We are in an extremely unfortunate time when the only suffering that seems to matter to society is related to people with same-sex attraction, and that is a very sad thing, especially for those of us with other kinds of temptations.

  19. Wade, I was happy to read the first half of your comment, but the second half just makes too many logical leaps for me, and I am surprised that a seemingly reasonable person like yourself would buy it.

    It is not just Elder Nelson. It is the first presidency and the entire Quorum of the Twelve. You are asking us to believe that these 15 fine men, who have given most of their lives in service to their fellow man, are part of a conspiracy to pretend that something was revelation that was not revelation. This falls into the category of weird anti-Mormon conspiracy theory land, and I just don’t think it passes the basic logic test. I also don’t think we as humans with a limited and flawed perspective are in a position to say the policy isn’t “helpful.” There is so much that we don’t know about how things work in the eternities, and a bit of humility is always a good idea.

  20. It’s usually the case in the media that stories become sensationalised and simplistic to sell their message. Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

  21. I was prepared to hate this post but it makes some valid points. However why is there an assumption that these 32 were only Utah suicides? There are Mormons outside of Utah and I’ve never heard that groups reporting these suicides claim they were limited to Utah. One of the main Mama Dragons making this report isn’t located in Utah but lives in Arizona with strong ties to AZ, CA, UT and the surrounding states. Using info from the state of Utah doesn’t seem to automatically debunk the claim. And really the bigger concern is people, not numbers. People of worth. Showing everyone love no matter who they are.

  22. Maynard, take a look at the article I linked up in the fourth paragraph of the OP. The Mama Dragons themselves are claiming that 26 of the 32 suicides took place in Utah. So, we have the state of Utah saying that only 10 taking place (for all reasons) in November and December, yet we have the Mama Dragons claiming the number is 26, and that they are all caused by the new LDS policy. The numbers simply don’t add up.

    I agree that you should show people love no matter who they are. The greatest gesture of love ever was the Atonement. We can return that love, and create even greater love, by doing what the Savior asks us to do and by loving the Savior. What does the Savior want? John 14:15: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

  23. A “bullcrap alarm” that presupposes gay sex is morally justifiable, might possibly be need of calibration.

  24. As an active member of the LDS faith, AND as someone who also feels attracted to others of the same gender (i.e. I’m gay, homosexual, queer or whatever other label the LGBTQ community would so gladly like to place upon me), I have *CHOSEN* to live a chaste life as best I can in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What really burns me is when the progressive Mormon community takes it upon itself to speak on behalf of all gay members of the LDS faith and assume that we are all just dying (excuse the pun – too crass, I know) to live the homosexual lifestyle. Who do they think they are? If anything it just creates more tension.

    I have a testimony that I am a child of God and, as such, have the potential to become like Him. The essence of godliness is the ability to create, and God’s greatest creation is His children. It didn’t take too much academic reading *ahem* for me to figure out I wasn’t going to achieve that in a homosexual relationship. But far more important than that, I actually have a testimony that obedience to the Gospel brings blessings and happiness. And that has borne out to be true time and time again in my life. I can’t be more plain than that. That’s why I choose to live the Gospel as taught by Christ himself and by President Monson et. al. in our days. So simple. And no, I don’t want to know what I’m missing out on by not experimenting with my sexuality. I’ll pass, thanks.

    To those enlightened progressives: please do not endeavor to speak as if you know what’s best for me or for all gay LDS members you so conveniently lump into on homogenous group. You clearly do not. I thought the progressives prided themselves on being so open-minded and considerate…

  25. As an LDS man attracted to men I have to say the fault is not with the Church or its leaders. No one in any significant role in the Church has ever made me feel like I didn’t belong, or ever even hinted at the fact that my kind was not welcome. But those outside of the Church, or those within who want to change doctrine, they tell me that I am unwelcome in the Church. They also tell me that I can’t be happy living the life the Gospel teaches.
    It took more than a decade to figure out how my life fits into the Gospel narrative of faith, joy, and agency, but I found it. The biggest lie out there is that men and women like me were born to only have fulfilling relationships with those of our own gender and to ask us to live differently is cruel. God is both just and loving. If same sex relationships have no place in our eternal destinies why would same sex attraction be part of our eternal nature? Guess what? It’s not. At worst it is a temporal situation only, at best it is psychological construct brought on by our own reactive choices to events in our developmental stages of life.

  26. Scott D and Dakota Hansen, thanks for your powerful statements and testimonies. The truth is that all of us have temptations that we need to overcome. Some are more difficult than others, and I feel that same-sex attraction is one of the most difficult ones. But I honor your choices to try to live the Gospel even though most of the world is encouraging you not to. That is true courage.

  27. Great job at being skeptical and questioning when things don’t add up. I see irony in the fact that many believers tend to be very good at skepticism towards things even slightly critical of the LDS church, but seem completely unable to apply the same skepticism toward the church itself. It’s good to question any claims that don’t seem to add up, especially when those claims are said to be coming from God himself.

  28. John, I spent years being extremely skeptical about religion and the LDS church before getting baptized at the age of 34. I read every anti-Mormon book I could get my hands on. At the end of the day, the anti-Mormon stuff was complete nonsense — repetitive and illogical with weird conspiracy theories and embarrassing historical inaccuracies. In contrast, the claims of people associated with the LDS church seems to make sense and were generally much more believable and historically accurate. It was the Spirit that converted me, but it was the secular evidence that solidified my testimony. So, no, I am not some sheep who just accepted whatever Church leaders said. I went out and spent years researching on my own and came to my own decision. And that decision is: Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon is true, and we must listen to the teachings of modern-day prophets and follow their teachings.

  29. “A single heterosexual Mormon at least gets hope. That is more than a single gay or lesbian Mormon will ever have.”

    Hah. That is to laugh. Have you ever been to an over-30 (years old) LDS singles dance or activity/program? Gays make up 2% of the population. Maybe 4% depending on who’s counting. There are still far more “hopelessly single” heterosexual people in the church than there are homosexuals. You don’t have to spend much time with any older singles group, (not talking about 20-somethings, or up to age 35 or so) in or out of the church, before realizing that there are many real reasons why most singles are still single.

  30. Wade wrote: “All that said, to suggest that the church president “received revelation” on the matter is very, VERY hard to swallow, and I reject it. ”

    If you don’t believe those 15 men are prophets, seers, and revelators, what are you doing commenting on a faithful blog?

    When you say the current president isn’t a _prophet_, you’re saying that you don’t believe the foundational truth claims of the church. You’re implying either that Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet, or Thomas Monson is not his legitimate and God-chosen successor.


    To anyone: Have there been any real life actual situations yet where an excommunicated cohabiting/SSM person with primary custody of a minor child has _wanted_ their child baptized and has been turned down?

    All the church’s critics in this matter seem to have what I call “3rd party outrage”. Has anyone spoken out and said the policy actually applies, or has been applied , to _themselves_?

  31. Geoff, I’m pretty sure “Mama Dragon” is Wendy Montgomery posting under a pen name. She was referred to in Jacob Hess’ article. I encourage you, if it’s you Wendy, to go ahead and post with your real name, and have a real conversation about this.

    @Jayman, I disagree with you. We do know there are SSA people who have chosen to live in heterosexual marriages, Josh Weed comes to mind. I just refuse to cave into your victimhood mentality. Being chaste is not the end of the world. The Lord asking us to curb our passions is not impossible. You can be happy, chaste and active in the LDS Church. I also believe that you can choose to be happy, active and SSA in the LDS Church. We are here to support each other in keeping the commandments. Because with God all things are possible.

  32. @ Joyce –
    There are over 700 Mama Dragons. The one who posted upthread was not me. I have never hidden behind a pen name before. Why would I start now?

    I have had hundreds of what you call “real conversations” about this issue. The number was released by John Gustav-Wrathall, president of Affirmation, in an article he wrote, after I had a conversation with him about it. I had been sitting on the accumulating numbers for weeks. I likely would not have gone public with it, since I had promised privacy to the family members who reached out to me. But once the number was out there, I answered questions asked of me as best I could without breaking the privacy of those who had lost loved ones. I responded to the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, which are the articles I posted on my FB wall. Where it spread from there was out of my control. So I would hardly say that “Given the ghoulish way that they are glorying in their claims …” is an accurate statement. How am I glorifying any claims?

    I get that it’s hard to wrap one’s head around this. If I hadn’t personally spoken to a family member from each of these cases, I’d have a hard time believing it too. So I’m not upset at the skepticism. I cannot provide you the proof you want. Not only would that be breaking my promise of privacy to the families, I can’t even prove it without a doubt. Unless they sent me autopsy reports or suicide notes (if there was one), I can’t prove it. Which is what I made clear to the Deseret News and SLTrib. They made that clear in their articles as well. I only know what people confided in me. They were deeply grieving and I tried to grieve with them.

    I know people like to shoot the messenger, especially when the information offered is upsetting or doesn’t jive with their own opinions. I understand that is what is happening here. I can only tell you that I’m not lying about what I have shared.

  33. In an effort to understand my fellow humans I am forever trying to educate myself regarding the rapid changes in society that affect families and to be honest not to ignore those that are different than I. I am not LDS but I am a Christian and believe we all have a purpose in God’s plan. That said, I stumbled upon an article written by Dr Paul McHugh, formerly of Johns Hopkins. It was very informative on many levels but the part that applies to this conversation were two studies that indicated a 20% higher suicide rate among transgenders after reassignment surgery.

    This was an extremely informative writing and did have some indications that what we as a society are doing regarding our brothers and sisters that exhibit transgenderism, may not be helpful for them.

    I would urge those interested to Google this article, some very interesting information.

  34. Wendy, thanks for taking the time to comment. I am sure Joyce will comment also, but as the author of this post I wanted to chime in.

    I am not interested in shooting the messenger, but instead getting people to think about the message that you and others are promoting. I will reiterate the problems I have with that message.

    1)Anybody who has dealt with numbers knows that compiling a list like you describe is fraught with possible errors. Different people may report the same suicide twice. People who are third parties may report something that is second or third-hand information and get it wrong. People may not really know what was going on with a teen who was depressed and committed suicide. Anybody who has dealt with teenagers knows it is difficult to get information from them, and this becomes even more complex when dealing with sexuality. So, if anybody were to ever tell me: “My son committed suicide because he felt unwanted at the Church,” I would have a million doubts and questions because anybody who has ever dealt with a teenager knows that things are never that clear with teenagers. And, I am sorry I have to write this, but it is simply the truth: I don’t believe the people who are reporting this information. As I wrote above, I am a convert who joined the Church later in life, and I have dealt with literally hundreds of the Church’s critics over the years. One trait they share in common is the tendency to exaggerate and sometimes just make up information. (I am not saying you are doing this, but you have entered a world filled with Church critics, and it is simply a reality that most of them lie or exaggerate all of the time).

    2)I think you are in denial about the realities described in my post of understanding the reasons for suicide. People are extremely complex beings and can become depressed for reasons that are difficult to explain. Those of us who don’t have access to their thoughts simply cannot understand all of the things going one with people who are depressed. So, if a teen or anybody else commits suicide, it is plain hubris to claim we know the reason. There might be hundreds of reasons or there might be one clear reason, but the person may not be honest what the reason is. So for anybody to claim that a suicide is directly related to one cause that happened a few weeks before the person died is simply not believable — and it is not supported by the literature from people who have studied suicide and depression.

    3)I believe that people who spend a lot of time emphasizing their problems with the Church’s policies are making the problem worse, not better. There are charitable ways to describe the Church’s position, some of which I outline in the OP. Why not concentrate on that? Why not concentrate on the reality that God loves everybody? Why not concentrate that every single person put on Earth has had temptations they had to overcome, and only one of them, the one perfect person, was able to go through his life without succumbing to those temptations? So, if that is true, the human experience is one of learning to overcome temptations and to acquire self control, but the great news is that nobody ever does it perfectly, and we can all be forgiven for our mistakes and transgressions? Instead, what I see from many supposed advocates of people with same-sex attraction is a lot of anger directed at the Church, with the constant repeated refrain that the Church does not want people with same-sex attraction. The reality, as described by a few commenters above, is that the Church and its members want EVERYBODY to come to church. Why do you think we keep on having all of those endless meetings about home and visiting teaching? So, again, many liberal/progressive Mormons are making the situation worse for these people rather than better.

    So, I don’t think we are going to see eye to eye on this issue, and I stand by what I have written. But again I appreciate you coming on this blog to comment.

  35. I would like to link a post mentioned by Bookslinger in the comments that is relevant here. There is a history of Wendy Montgomery exaggerating claims about gay teen suicide. When you look at the data, there is simply no corroboration of her claims.

    Here is what the article says:

    “Unfortunately, however, these stories seem to be accompanied, more and more frequently, by statistical claims that are not supported by data. Mrs. Montgomery’s assertion that Mormons have the highest gay teen suicide rate in the country is unsourced in the original interview, and other blogs and outlets making similar claims are also missing sources. I surveyed all the government and health data I could find on youth suicide in the United States, and was unable to find any agency that collects public data by religion or sexual orientation (data so specific would be very difficult to collect). In fact, the American Association of Suicidology’s LGBT Resource Sheet notes, “to date, there is no empirical data regarding the number of completed suicides within the LGBT community.” The claim appears to be fabricated.

    Other claims to the effect that Mormons, or Utahns, have a unique or unusually acute problem with gay teen suicide, or even teen suicide, cannot be supported by any data I can find.”


  36. Maggie,

    Some key findings of the transgender study:

    — The support of parents mattered greatly even when a transgender person was well into adulthood.

    — The risk of suicidal thoughts dropped 44% among trans Ontarians who could get legal forms such as birth certificates or OHIP cards with their new gender.

    — Those who experienced low levels of trans-based hate were 66% less likely to consider suicide that those who endured high levels through things such as abuse.

    — There was a link between suicide and how far along a trans person was in changing their body to the desired state — the closer to completion, the fewer attempted suicides.


  37. @Wendy Williams Montgomery

    I wish very much that I could believe you. But this isn’t your first time.

    Back in 2014, you made the following statements in an interview with the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/26/wendy-williams-montgomery-lgbt-mormons_n_6377710.html

    “The average is one gay youth suicide a week in Utah alone.”

    “the weeks that comments like ‘marriage is between a man or a woman’ are made or something comes from our [LDS] top leadership about traditional marriage or anything that feels anti-gay, the suicide and homeless rates dramatically jump.”

    “Mormons have the highest rate of gay teen suicides in the country.”

    If these statistics are not fabricated, please verify them for us.

    This time around, you’re reporting “26 suicides of young LGBT Mormons in Utah”. The Utah Department of Health reports 10 suicides, and 25 total deaths, for Utah youths generally. That’s a discrepancy of at least 16 suicides.

    Can you explain this?

  38. Geoff B., hopefully this comment is not ‘lost in an internet black hole’.

    Very early in your article you make the claim that:

    “None other than the Salt Lake Tribune, always anxious to find ways to criticize the Church, went looking for information to corroborate the claim of “32 suicides.” But, in a strange twist, actual journalism took place at the Tribune, and they were forced to report that there is no evidence of that many of suicides”

    Yet in the same article, the mother of one of the deceased that Wendy put the reporter in contact with interviewed. That is evidence.

    Second, the State confirms ten of the suicides. Yet the State data is only from November and December. That is evidence.

    Third, if you look into how suicide data is classified, anything that can be attributed as an accident and/or incidents of drug overdoses whether via legal or illegal drugs are not classified as suicides unless there is a specific note of intent. A majority of the suicides we know of were via drug overdoses (legal and illegal.) This is revealing on the complexity of gathering this information.

    Beyond that your characterization of ‘trumpeting these claims’ and an attack on the Church is just bizarre. If the Deseret News felt Wendy was attacking the Church, they never would have mentioned her. If they felt there was no basis in the claims, they would not have even published the article. Instead, there are multiple articles.

    Can we focus more on supporting the vulnerable LGBT youth inside and outside the Church instead of vilifying the messengers?

  39. @ Jonathan

    Since that article, the CDC has come out with the statistics for 2014. In Utah, there were 55 suicides Age 15-19 in Utah in 2014 up from 36 in 2013. You may note that 55 is greater than 52 which would be more than one per month. That is more than twice the national average and an exponential increase over previous years.

    Now, not all of these are LGBT suicides and as noted by Geoff B., there is never just a single factor. But when you add the 20-24 suicides for 2014, you have over 100. If just half of those were LGBT you are looking at almost one per week.

    I have these statistics broken out in a pdf if Geoff B. can provide me an email to send them to you. This information is tragic and while vilifying Wendy has become sport for some of you, addressing support and solutions would be a better use of your time and efforts.

    Data is also available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention at http://cdc.gov.injury/wisqars/

  40. Tom, I note that you did not address Wendy’s claim that “Mormons have the highest rate of gay teen suicides in the country” in your answer. As you have already admitted in another thread on the Virtuous Society blog, there is simply no evidence of this, and you have retracted it. So, we do have a definite pattern of Wendy making claims that are untrue or at the very least exaggerated.

    In addition, you write:

    “Since that article, the CDC has come out with the statistics for 2014. In Utah, there were 55 suicides Age 15-19 in Utah in 2014 up from 36 in 2013. You may note that 55 is greater than 52 which would be more than one per month. That is more than twice the national average and an exponential increase over previous years.

    Now, not all of these are LGBT suicides and as noted by Geoff B., there is never just a single factor. But when you add the 20-24 suicides for 2014, you have over 100. If just half of those were LGBT you are looking at almost one per week.”

    I would like to point out what you are doing here, because it is an interesting use of manipulating statistics to portray a story that you feels supports your worldview. So, let’s assume that you are correct, that there 100 suicides per year. What was the “cause” of these suicides? Well, this post and the actual literature on suicides indicates that there is almost never one cause. But yet you glom onto the belief that half of these people may be LGBT. Based on what, exactly? Your pre-existing worldview, that is what. There is simply no evidence to support that.

    I reject the view that you can easily put people into boxes based on their sexuality. Peoples’ sexuality and desires can change over time. I have personally known several people who had same-sex desires when they were younger and no longer had same-sex desires as they got older. And I have even known people who developed same-sex desires over time. Teenagers are experiencing a LOT of new feelings, and those feelings can change quickly. Studies have shown very clearly that the majority of people who feel same-sex attraction *never act on these feelings.* It is not healthy for these people to put them in a box as “LGBT” by other activists, especially activists with an axe to grind. It does them more harm than good.

    But notice where your worldview automatically takes you: half of these suicides MUST be “LGBT.” You see these people as statistics to be manipulated to support your worldview.

    Let me offer another view. There were about 100 suicides (if what you report is true). Each person was uniquely loved by God. Each person had unique thoughts and unique experiences. Some of them may have had same-sex attraction. But this was not, by any stretch, the main feature that defined them. They were poets and athletes and writers and scientists with friends and families and things to give to the world. Some of them may have suffered bullying. Others may have been bullies themselves. Some may have abused drugs or alcohol or come from broken homes. Many of them were very likely abused by relatives or other adults. They cannot simply be put in a box as “LGBT.” Such a description reduces them in every possible way and turns them into fodder for other peoples’ causes. And they were not fodder: they were unique human beings with distinctive stories.

    Now you may respond, and rightly so, that I am twisting your words to make you seem insensitive, but this comment is not intended to attack you but is intended to attack the way that people discuss this issue. I reject, as strongly as possible, the worldview that says that people are defined primarily by their sexual choices. I reject, as strongly as possible, the worldview that says that people have no choice in how they feel about sexuality. And I certainly reject, in the strongest words possible, the view that people should act on their sexual desires without thinking about the consequences to the people around them and to themselves.

    So, I don’t accept a worldview where people neatly put other people in boxes when dealing with sexuality and then add up how many are killing themselves because of some third party. That view is all about blame and anger and political activism. It is not about truly caring for the people involved, who are loved by a wondrous Heavenly Father and who are not numbers to be tallied up and published for the world to see.

  41. @Tom Montgomery

    Tom: “…while vilifying Wendy has become sport for some of you, addressing support and solutions would be a better use of your time and efforts.”

    I’m not “vilifying” anyone. Part of “addressing support and solutions” is defining the scale of the problem, and fabricated statistics hinder, not help.

    Your response fails to corroborate any of Wendy’s claims:

    1- “The average is one gay youth suicide a week in Utah alone.”

    I couldn’t follow your argument here. Is it 55 suicides in 2014 or “over 100”? Also, your link was broken. In any case, not verified.

    Furthermore, Utah’s suicide rate does not differ from other states in the Intermountain West, including states with few Mormons. Comparison to the national average is misleading, particularly given Utah’s higher altitude.

    2- “the weeks that comments like ‘marriage is between a man or a woman’ are made or something comes from our [LDS] top leadership about traditional marriage or anything that feels anti-gay, the suicide and homeless rates dramatically jump.”

    [not addressed]

    3- “Mormons have the highest rate of gay teen suicides in the country.”

    [not addressed]

    4- The latest claim. Let’s restate, for clarity, what the Tribune printed:

    “From the policy’s onset through the end of 2015, Montgomery, a leader of the Mama Dragons support group for the families of gay Latter-day Saints, says she had counted 26 suicides of young LGBT Mormons in Utah — 23 males, one female and two transgender individuals — between ages 14 and 20.”

    The claim is “26 suicides of young LGBT Mormons in Utah” from “the policy’s onset” — that is, November 13th — “through the end of 2015.” So January isn’t included in either Wendy’s claim or the State’s data, if that’s what you meant by “yet the State data is only from November and December.”

    And the state did not “confirm ten of the suicides”: it’s possible that none were LGBTQ. The State did not “confirm” the sexual identity or religion of any. Your claim here is false.

    Finally, the Health Department of Utah reported 25 total youth deaths for the time period. Even if all of them were LGBTQ Mormon suicides, you still have a problem: Wendy reported 26 suicides.

    You have not verified yours and Wendy’s claims. You’ve made a few new false or misleading claims. This is not encouraging.

    Please verify or retract your claims.

  42. Geoff, I am not sure that I have ever indicated or said that people have no choice in how they feel about sexuality. And I think you are trying very hard to avoid a very stark reality.

    When a young LGBT youth recognizes at 12-14 that they are LGBT, there is immediate conflict with the hetero-normative narrative that is the Plan of Happiness including marrying someone of the opposite sex. This is regardless of how they feel or the choices they make. Their life just became infinitely harder and will be directly impacted by the rejection or acceptance of their parents, extended family and the Church.

    Let’s not put me in a box either. I support anyone who chooses celibacy or a mixed orientation marriage recognizing that there are a world of unique challenges inherent in those choices that heterosexual people will never appreciate (Including celibate heterosexual adults).

    But putting the prospect of celibacy among other hard choices on young teens is extremely difficult. Magnify that by intense rejection and/or ecclesiastical leaders who are heterosexual and have no context to be giving advice or qualified to stand in judgement. Here is the science regarding LGBT youth in highly rejecting homes:

    * More than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide
    * Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
    * More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and
    * More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases

    All of this is independent of the choices of the LGBT youth. Magnify all of the above with the increased dynamic that if you follow your default makeup, even if every other aspect of your life is in line with the gospel, you will be cast out as an apostate.

    Parents in very real ways control how rejecting or accepting the environment their LGBT youth lives in. Schools play a part. The Church plays a part in the ward environment and in how the LGBT youth internalize being LGBT (How God views them.) Rejection by God is devastating.

    Finally, you are contextualizing that Wendy and I are fabricating information on points that cannot be proven (Even if there are strong indicators). We are informed by our relationships and conversation with LGBT people that honestly takes place on a daily basis. Hundreds of LGBT people and parents of LGBT youth reach out to us daily. We have spent years creating and advocating resources specifically created to be useful in the Mormon/faith community.

    Rejection comes in many forms and in many places and while I appreciate that your worldview does not want people to be in boxes regarding their sexuality, if an LGBT youth’s parents are homophobic, or their Bishop is homophobic, or even just in ignorance they are injuring their child because they don’t even know what acceptance looks like, they will put you a box that could crush the life out of you.

    The Deseret News article cited resources by the Family Acceptance Project that Wendy and I have been significantly involved in for 4+ years. Please read and access those resources and make sure parents and leaders in your community are aware of them.


  43. I personally know Wendy and I know that she is an honest person who would not fabricate something so important just to further a cause. She has a close connection with the LGBT community because she has been an ally for them, because of that family members that have lost a child felt comfortable enough to come to her in confidence needing help to deal with their loss. She has the responsibility to keep their confidence and protect them as they have requested. She is still a member of the LDS church so is not trying to shed a negative light on the church nor does she have an “opinion that the Church is bad, bad, BAD” she is only asking the leaders to take a softer stand to help protect these youth who are already learning to navigate this new difficult path. Even IF the accusations in this article were true are ANY of you OK with even the 10 deaths as stated in the article? If making the church a more Welcome place for LGBT members would save even 1 youth then it is worth it especially if that 1 youth were yours!

  44. Tom, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment here.

    I would like to point out a difference in perception that you and I have that I think is crucial.

    You write: “When a young LGBT youth recognizes at 12-14 that they are LGBT…”

    THAT is exactly the point. You have just put these young men and women in a box with a description that is completely inaccurate for what they are feeling.

    In reality, each youth who has same-sex attraction feels something different. Some may be attracted to just one person of the same sex, and it may not be sexual. It may just be a strong friendship. Another may feel strong sexual feelings but be confused about those feelings. Another may feel strong sexual feelings toward another young man one day and then another young woman the next day. In fact, there are as many different reactions as there are people.

    There is simply be no such thing as a person “recognizing they are LGBT” without a greater community of older people encouraging such self-identification. Note: I am NOT saying that many of these people would not eventually, over time, develop strong feelings of same-sex attraction and act on them. What I am saying is that activists like to put people in simple categories when in fact sexuality is much more complex than that. As I say above, there are a variety of sexual feelings that can take place, and it is simply not true that people with same-sex attraction should all be told they are “recognizing they are LGBT.”

    I will admit that being in a Church with a traditional view of family life is difficult for many youth with same-sex attraction. Of course they will see a conflict between what the Church teaches and their own feelings. But I have news for you: those of us with other temptations also have to deal with these difficulties. You may or may not know about the world of addiction (with which I unfortunately have a lot of experience being a recovering addict myself), but the Word of Wisdom is not exactly the easiest teaching for many addicts to swallow. Yet may of us recognize that the Church’s teachings sets a goal for us to achieve — a difficult goal, yes, but nevertheless a goal.

    I realize that sexuality is an extremely powerful thing, and there are difficulties comparing addictions to sexuality, but my point remains valid: the Church’s teachings are consistent, even if they are difficult. And ALL of us have temptations we have to overcome.

    You also write something that I find very strange: “Rejection by God is devastating.” I hope you realize that God never rejects his children. I hope you are not telling this to LDS youth with same-sex attraction. The Church does not reject these youth (although individuals may not act in a perfectly loving manner all the time), and God certainly does not.

    One other small point: if you want to know why many people believe you may be exaggerating, you may want to look at your comment above. You write: “Hundreds of LGBT people and parents of LGBT youth reach out to us daily.” Really, at least 200 people “reach out” to you every single day? Let’s do the math on that. Let’s say you have eight hours a day to devote to this outreach effort (four hours each to you and Wendy). The average phone call has got to take at least 10 minutes if people are talking to you about their problems. That’s about 48 phone calls a day over eight hours, each one 10 minutes long, one after the other. And of course there must be emails, but are you seriously saying you receive 152 unique emails every single day — in addition to the 48 phone calls that take eight hours to respond to?

    I know the above paragraph seems very nitpicky, but I do this to make a point: it illustrates the way you and Wendy seem to throw around facts and figures without really thinking about what you are saying. You would help your cause a lot more if you were more careful with numbers. Just sayin’.

  45. Tom, i went to the link you gave and did a custom map for suicides. As I mentioned in a previous comment, the mountain west as a whole (including
    Alaska) has a higher suicide rate than the national average. yet Utah is consistently at the lower end of that comparable region. So to say that Utah has a higher suicide rate, or higher teen suicide rate than the national average, while technically true, is painting a false picture by leaving out very pertinent information.

    I also failed to follow your math here:

    Since that article, the CDC has come out with the statistics for 2014. In Utah, there were 55 suicides Age 15-19 in Utah in 2014 up from 36 in 2013. You may note that 55 is greater than 52 which would be more than one per month. That is more than twice the national average and an exponential increase over previous years.

    Now, not all of these are LGBT suicides and as noted by Geoff B., there is never just a single factor. But when you add the 20-24 suicides for 2014, you have over 100. If just half of those were LGBT you are looking at almost one per week.

    I understand the “month” for “week” typo. But I’m totally confused by the last two quoted sentences. Perhaps you can html-ize, or plain-text-ize the pdf you are referring to and post just the relevant numbers here. Usng the “code” or “TT” html tags allows you to use a fixed width font so as to use spaces to get columns to line up. Let’s see if the blog software supports it…

    This is the code tag.
    Line 2

    This is the TT tag.
    Line 2.

  46. Bookslinger: I think the math goes as follows:

    # of suicides for ages 15-19 in Utah in 2014 = 55
    # of suicides for ages 20-24 in Utah in 2014 = x

    Add them together and you get a new age range total:
    # of suicides for ages 15-24 in Utah in 2014 = 55+ x >100

    Half of suicides for ages 15-24 in Utah in 2014 = (55+x)/2 > 100/2 = 50

    If half of all Utah suicides ages 15-24 in 2014 are by LGBT folks, then the rate is about 1/week (more than 50 divided by 52).

  47. Tom’s CDC link should be:

    Then it works. Click Fatal InjuryData. Then click Fatal Injury Maps.

    Select “suicide” and vary the number of intervals and ages. Click “submit/genrate a new map”.

    It then illustrates what others and I have been saying about the Intermountain West.

  48. Just want to jump in on the numbers from the small, non-random Family Acceptance Project study that Tom Montgomery mentioned. As I wrote last year,

    “Gay youth who experienced high levels of family rejection were 3.4 times as likely to attempt suicide, 2.8 times as likely to experience depression, and 1.7 times as likely to use illicit drugs as gay youth who experienced low levels of rejection. Note: Unfortunately, the researchers who wrote the original journal article misinterpreted odds ratio as relative risks, and accordingly reported higher numbers for the foregoing statistics (specifically 8, 6 and 3 times instead of the above figures). This appears to be a good faith error–misinterpretation of the odds ratio (a very unintuitive statistic) is extremely common, even among researchers. The journal article is restricted, but available here to those with institutional access. General information about misinterpreting odds ratios is here.”

    Here are the links I was referring to:


  49. @Bookslinger

    Were you able to get data specific for Utah? I couldn’t get anything smaller than “region”. It’s my first time using “wisqars”, so I’m probably doing something wrong.

    @Tom Stringham

    I’m glad you brought up this particular statistical error. I was about to reference your blog on this point!


    Glenda: “Even IF the accusations in this article were true are ANY of you OK with even the 10 deaths as stated in the article?”

    Another false claim: the article does not state that any of the suicides were LDS or LGBTQ. Probably some were one or the other or both, but the article does not say.

    And *of course* I’m not “OK” with any number of suicides, no matter how small.

    Working to prevent suicide and pointing out fabricated suicide data are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary: accurate data is necessary for suicide prevention.

    False claims and fabricated data impede, not improve, suicide prevention.

  50. @Glenda, @Tom Montgomery

    In your opinion, does teaching the Law of Chastity facilitate suicide?

    It seems like this is what you’re saying. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  51. Tom Stringham, wait, are you saying that you wrote more than a year ago a post that very clearly points out a statistical error in the numbers that Tom Montgomery is citing? Are you saying that Tom Montgomery read and commented on that post and is STILL quoting the wrong, exaggerated numbers on this very post?

    To be clear, Tom Montgomery wrote the following in a comment on this post:

    “* More than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide
    * Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
    * More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs,”

    But the truth is that the researchers made a statistical error and the real numbers are:
    From Tom Stringham:
    “Gay youth who experienced high levels of family rejection were 3.4 times as likely to attempt suicide, 2.8 times as likely to experience depression, and 1.7 times as likely to use illicit drugs as gay youth who experienced low levels of rejection.”

    Hmmm. Here I have written a post that questions the numbers put out by activists, and it turns out that one of the activists has exaggerated other numbers right here in the comment section of my post!

  52. @Geoff B

    It’s even worse than that. Tom Mongomery commented on Tom Stringham’s post a year ago. To my knowledge, he has never addressed this statistical error. Yet he just keeps on repeating it.

    This pattern of behavior does not aid his credibility.

  53. I never thought that these suicides were caused only by the recent policy changes, but I do believe that the policy changes could have been the last straw in a life long battle with not feeling loved or of worth because of the LDS church.

  54. Jonathan: Here’s the page I was working on: (two clicks away from the previous link given)

    I changed:
    Intent of injury, to: suicide. (Pull down list)
    All Ages, to: Age Groups (radio button)
    Age groups, to: 15-19/15-19 (pull down list)
    Number of Intervals: from 4 to 9.

    Then click “submit / generate a new map”

    It brings you right back to the same page, and then you scroll down to see the map you just generated.

    It did not give an exact number for each state, just shades. The exact numbers might be on other reports accessible from the main wisqars page.

  55. So, is the dress gold and white, or black and blue?

    A friend of mine who was neither Mormon nor (as far as I know) LBGTQ passed away this week. I am sad that I can’t talk with him. I’m sad to think that I might have been able to do or say something in his final days or hours that might have eased (or prevented?) his final pain.

    For several years in my distant past I contemplated suicide. Tracing my journal writings, it appears the first downturn happened immediately after I attempted to defend a brother from getting badly beaten (I ended up taking the beating).

    Happily, I never acted on my feelings of despair. Thus I didn’t become a statistic.

    For anyone feeling a desire to help themselves from this world, please hold on to the hope that some day the crushing despair will pass. There will be a time of emotional spring, when life is warm and green and sweet.

    It is worth enduring the cold winter of despair to find that sweet, warm future.

  56. @AuntM: Thank you! Tom M omitted the word “ages” in front of “20-24 suicides”, and I read “20-24” as [a range of] data numbers, and not as a label. His intended meaning is clear now.

    @All: Another factor being left unmentioned is the near universal presence of mental illness or emotional issues among homosexuals, especially gay men. While the prevalence of various mental/emotional “issues” among the general population reaches 50%, it’s near universal for gay men. Some easily observable data points are the rarity of long-term committed relationships among gay men, hyper-promiscuity, self-destructive behavior, and extremely high incidence of domestic violence among cohabiting gay men.

    The domestic violence rate (several times that of heterosexuals) among cohabiting gay men (that is, gay on gay) can’t be legitimately blamed on bullying by school mates, or discrimination by general society.

    This is also one reason why the military and gov’t intelligence agencies never wanted gays, is because that, generally speaking, they are just not that stable. It wasn’t solely about the blackmail risk of gay men back when it was socially unacceptable to be open about it. Humans are frail creatures to begin with. If the general population has a 50% chance of turning out to have mental/emotional problems, why risk giving a sensitive national-security type of job to someone you know is going to have a 90+% chance of having mental/emotional issues? (Hello Bradley Manning.)

    The bottom line is that when people do commit suicide, as Geoff has been pointing out, there are plenty of _other_ _simultaneous_ issues or problems that do have demonstrated links with depression and suicide.

    My reading of what professional counselors and clergy-counselors (including priests who have heard a lot of gay confessions) have written also supports Geoff’s assertion of the point that sexual attraction is not always a binary gay-or-straight permanent attribute. It’s not always 100% “hard coded”. Some people have various degrees of hard/soft coding. There have been people who experimented with homosexuality, but then went on to be full-time heterosexuals and are happy with being heterosexual.

    It used to be generally accepted that someone could be “bent” or “groomed” or “seduced/tricked” into experimenting. It used to be that all children went through a homosexual phase and grew out of it by puberty. But now, everyone says “you’re born that way, that’s it, there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s not a phase, don’t try to fight it, just give in, and don’t worry because there’s nothing wrong with it anyway.” No wonder teens are confused these days!

    Ok, I’ll grant that _some_ people might be hard-coded homosexual from birth. But the “always and universally born that way” belief was NOT what the majority of members of the APA believed when the leadership of APA took homosexuality out of the DSM against the concensus of the members back in the 1970’s.

    When a little girl is sexually abused/raped by an adult man, if she has an orgasm (and Alfred Kinsey, the famous sex researcher, used to pay pedophiles to measure/time how long it took them to bring their victims to orgasm) it can be the source of life-long guilt; she wrongly thinks she “liked it”, or “asked for it” or “deserved it” (and that’s used as a tool by the perpetrator to obtain silence) and it becomes a life-long source of guilt and low self-esteem, and often leads to promiscuity.

    Boys who are raped/abused/seduced by older males suffer similarly. An induced orgasm buys silence, induces a feeling of complicity, brings the accusation “you liked it, so you must be gay.” And then the societal message “all gays were born that way, and there’s nothing you can do to change it” seals the feeling of no way out, of it being “destiny.”

    The high prevalence of prison sex, the sometimes continuance of homosexual behavior after prison (called “on the down low” in the African American community) among men who never gave homosexuality a thought prior to prison, and (as Meg Stout mentioned in another thread) the societal acceptance of homosexual behavior in ancient Greece, and the widespread practice of pederasty in Afghanistan today, all illustrate that homosexual _behavior_ can be a _chosen_ behavior for many reasons and under various conditions.

    If anyone is undecided about the “born that way” issue, or open to changing their mind, I challenge you to ask your adult homosexual acquaintances how old they were when they had their first sexual encounter, and how old their “partner” was. It will suprise you how many were minors with an adult “partner”.

    Ya wanna know a very practical, and “non-religious” reason for the Law of Chastity? Sex doesn’t just create a “bonding”. One’s first sexual experience creates an _imprinting_.

    Go to Youtube and look up Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of the book “You’re Teaching My Children WHAT?”

    Google “Fistgate”. Hint: it’s not about committed long term relationships.

  57. The real enemy is Satan. He is putting into the hearts and minds of people that they don’t have a choice. We do have agency. We can choose how we act to certain stimuli. The freedom that comes from learning this is exactly what Satan doesn’t want us to feel.

  58. According to Tom the missing 13 suicides from the stats happened in January.

    This doesn’t make sense? Shouldn’t the majority of the suicides have happened right after the the LDS announcement, not weeks after? It flies in the face of logic and either:
    A. its a false claim. or
    B. There’s no way those suicides were directly related to the announcement as claimed. the MAJORITY of the suicides wouldn’t happen months after the announcement. they would happen right after.

  59. @Harrison

    Harrison: “According to Tom the missing 13 suicides from the stats happened in January.”

    But that’s not what Wendy told the Salt Lake Tribune:

    “From the policy’s onset through the end of 2015, Montgomery, a leader of the Mama Dragons support group for the families of gay Latter-day Saints, says she had counted 26 suicides of young LGBT Mormons in Utah — 23 males, one female and two transgender individuals — between ages 14 and 20.”

    The policy was leaked on November 13th, so Wendy’s claim encompasses November 13th through December 31st, 2015.

    The Utah Department of Health counted only 25 total deaths, including 10 suicides, for that age group from November 1st through December 31st, 2015. Even though the Dept. of Health has included 12 extra days (November 1st through November 12th), they count 16 fewer suicides than Wendy.

    It looks like she’s fabricating data. Again.

  60. Excellent article. Excellent comments. I have many thoughts but they would be lost in what is already out there. Just this: In our own way we have to fight back against the indoctrination. And still be compassionate. And that, that is tough.

  61. @All: in the Montgomerys’ defense:

    A) they might not have known the referenced article made the error in interpreting ratios versus multiples. They may just be late to the announcement of that discovery.

    B) Wendy says that she’s receiving reports of suicides direct from the families, not official State statistcis. In trying to mentally reconcile, I’m coming up with three possibilities:
    1) There may be a lag between data being sent from county/city coroner/health department to the State, and the State will eventually revise the figures for the given time period when the reporting data catches up. Wendy says she gets it direct from families, who may be familiar with the event, while authorities are still conducting tests/investigations, and haven’t yet filed their official report/ruling. If it takes 6 weeks minimum for a toxicology test, I can see official death stats being delayed at least 6 weeks.

    2) it may be that some decedents staged suicide as an accident, such as a car accident, or accidental overdose, or accidental fatal combination of alcohol and/or medicines. Perhaps the family kept quiet to the authorities about the known despondent state of the deceased in order to protect the memory of the deceased, save the family embarrassment, and maybe even for life insurance purposes. (It’s been known to happen.) To the accident investigators, maybe it just looked like “driver lost control” or “was driving too fast for conditions” or “apparently fell asleep at wheel”, or “was texting and driving.”
    3) Sometimes, unless there is publicly known and/or overwhelming evidence for suicide, the investigating authorities knowingly rule “accidental death” in order to save embarrassment or avoid social stigma for the family instead of ruling it a suicide. “Accidentally shot himself ‘while cleaning his gun'” is a typical cover-up description. (Though technically, it can happen and be fatal under narrow circumstances.)

  62. Clarification: In regard to my rambling long comment date stamped Feb 1, at 9:26 pm, I seem to have failed to state a clear thesis and conclusion.

    I’d like to connect it with what I think was Geoff’s thesis too, via the “hard versus soft coding” line of reasoning. And in a phrase: “Margin Creep”.

    Here’s my thesis: Our society’s approach to being compassionate to people who were allegedly “born with” SSA (ie, they appear to have or claim to have some genetic or inborn “hard coding”) is actually doing a disservice to the “marginal cases” of those whose SSA is “soft coded”, by removing societal stigmas and barriers that would otherwise have prevented the “soft coded” SSA people from acting upon their SSA. (Meg mentioned in another thread that maybe 20% of the population would sexually experiment with homosexual acts if society was not against it.)

    The best support that I’ve read for this thesis is here:

    In it, the author compares the societal and paradigm shift of attitudes towards homosexuality and SSM to: a) out of wedlock births, b) welfare society, and c) no fault divorce.

    In all 3 of those cases, society removed stigmas against those things out of compassion towards those who “couldn’t help it” or “wasn’t their fault” or “didn’t choose their situation/condition.” The reason was that “no one in their right mind would _choose_ an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, to go on welfare, or to get a quickie divorce.”

    Well guess what… By removing the consequences and stigmas, we got MORE of all three of those things, and made them easier, and now people are _choosing_ to do all three, when everyone back then thought that “no way would someone _choose_ that!”

    IE, the stigma and societal attitudes was enough to keep the “marginal cases” from getting pregnant, or go on welfare, or get divorced. But once the first layer of “not-their-fault”s got their “compassion”, the next layer asked “Hey, where’s my compassion?”. And then the next layer became the “marginal cases” who crossed the line, and the cycle repeated until we have what we have today.

    Gays have long said “Who in their right mind would ‘choose’ to be gay with all this homophobia?” That gives the so-called “gay agenda” away right there. By removing “homophobia”/stigma from society, people will be free to _choose_ homosexual behavior. (And due to the imprinting nature of a first sexual experience, heaven help those teens whose first sexual experiment is same-sex.)

    Sorry for the rambling. Someday I need to organize all this and submit a guest post.

  63. As a high school teacher, I have noticed in the last decade a tendency for teen activists to make claims following a suicide, suspicious death or tragic accident that the victim was LGBT. In more than a few cases, family and close friends of the victim have doubted or even denied the allegations. These incidents have caused me to doubt many assertions made about teen deaths.

    But what I find particularly amazing is the assumption made the Mama Dragons, like the naive teen activists I deal with, that every teen death is a LGBT suicide, and that these “suicides” are all in response church policy. We should note that approx. half of Utah’s population is LDS. Of those, 40% are active.

  64. @Bookslinger

    Bookslinger: “A) they might not have known the referenced article made the error in interpreting ratios versus multiples. They may just be late to the announcement of that discovery.”

    No. Tom Montgomery commented on Tom Stringham’s original blog post a year ago that pointed out this error. He’s been aware for a year, but continues to repeat the erroneous odds ratio.

    Bookslinger: “B) Wendy says that she’s receiving reports of suicides direct from the families, not official State statistcis. In trying to mentally reconcile, I’m coming up with three possibilities…”

    The State reported a total of 25 deaths from all causes for that age group during that period. Wendy reported 26 LDS LGBT suicides for the same age group & time period. Even if every death was an LDS LGBT suicide (not likely), her claim is implausible.

    Bookslinger: ” There may be a lag between data being sent from county/city coroner/health department to the State…”

    Possible, I suppose, but illegal.


    The State Medical Examiner has legal jurisdiction in any suspected suicide, accident, poisoning, or a death “under suspicious or unusual circumstances”.

    The Office of the State Medical Examiner indeed notes that a final death certificate may take 8 to 12 weeks to issue, but: ” In the interim, a ‘Pending’ death certificate is issued.


    That’s probably why 2 of the 25 deaths reported by the State (for ages 14-20 during November and December 2015) are of “undetermined” cause.

    Bookslinger: “2) it may be that some decedents staged suicide as an accident…3) Sometimes, unless there is publicly known and/or overwhelming evidence for suicide…”

    See above.

    Even if everything you write in the Mongomerys’ defense is true, the numbers they report are implausible.

  65. Jonathan, thanks for covering the bases. i was hoping to find a way for the Montgomerys to have been sincerely mistaken, but that looks unlikely now.

    It makes the behavior of gay advocates (and apologists for homosexual behavior) all the more ghoulish, as it shows how they take advantage of the gut-wrenching heart-break experienced by the families of those who do commit suicide.

    It illustrates the need for articles like the OP to set the record straight.

    It illustrates that many other claims, made by pro-gay activists/apologists/advocates, about SSA and homosexual behavior also ought to be suspect.

    And it’s not just ghoulish, it’s manipulative and sinister, in that by means of their lies, the advocates then try to discredit those who disagree with them by painting them as uncaring towards the deceased and their families. In a way, it’s PC-ism run amok. A classic example of the overall phenomenon that Dr. Bruce Charlton describes in his book “Thought Prison – the fundamental nature of Policial Correctness” at

    If we don’t agree that bad is good, then we are “haters.” Is it not possible to be compassionate without redefining evil as good? To whom, and to what system can we look to learn to be compassionate and relieve suffering where possible, while still advocating for righteousness, virtue and overall goodness?

    The pupose of PC is not compassion and relief of suffering. PC _always_ leads to more people suffering. PC led to _more_ OoW births, not less. PC led to _more_ people on welfare/govt assistance, and even generational dependency. PC led to _more_ divorce and more children growing up in broken homes.

    Progressives, who demanded reforms in the name of “compassion” in those three things (the three items from the Jane Galt article), actually made things _measurably_ _worse_! Why are we still trusting or even listening to PC progressives after decades of failure?

    According to Dr. Charlton PC-ism is not just manipulative and sinister, it is diabolical, and actively descructive of the good.

    To quote John C Wright: “The Progressives in their smirking self-righteous piety and grotesque self-imposed ignorance are henchmen of the devil. Some know it, most do not.”
    Source: http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/02/david-warren-defies-the-empire-of-lies

  66. @Goeff – This exchange provoked me to write a blog post – which goes as follows – in the form of maxims or advice to Christian bloggers:

    Don’t publish comments from, or debate with, the dishonest (and where somebody is dishonest is a thing you will need to judge for yourself).

    The dishonest have an agenda, a reason for commenting – and they are using your blog to propagate it.

    What is the point of a traditional Christian blog publishing comments that seeks to undermine and subvert its blog posts? What is the point of overwhelming the Christian blog posts with following comments that are anti-Christian – and pro some secular agenda that is nearly always secular Left, nearly always pro-sexual revolution?

    That would be taking one step forward and two steps back.

    You may believe that you are publishing comments to refute them – but that may not be how the exchange appears.

    When a commenter is dishonest, and when his aim is destructive, he has a massive advantage in debate – He can raise problems and doubts more simply and easily than they can be dealt-with; he can ask questions faster than you can answer them (a short and easily-understood question often needs a long and involved answer that is difficult to follow and needs concentration to follow – hence the answer will not be followed.

    When a commenter is parroting mainstream mass media opinion, he also has the advantage that his view is backed-up by what people (usually unconsciously) regard as ‘evidence’ (i.e. 1001 things they have heard, seen or read, somewhere – they aren’t sure where – and sort-of accept as presumably valid).

    A dishonest and subversive commenter can destroy certainty, belief and hope much more readily than you can patch-them-up.

    Don’t give them space and airplay, don’t give them attention, don’t waste your time on them. It will do more harm than good.

  67. I would add to what Bruce says: Never make the mistake of thinking that if you give the air time, they will reciprocate.

  68. This comment is directed to Wendy and Tom Montgomery:

    First, you indicated in a Facebook Post that you received a call from a suicidal transgender person who was found lying in a gutter out side her bishop’s home.

    Next, I see on Augustus Crosby’s Facebook page that she shared your husband’s post indicating that yeah, it was me (the trans person who was suicidal).

    Finally, I just listened to her Out in Zion podcast explanation of the night and there was a different story. No suicide, no gutter, no urgent phone call because she was suicidal. In short, none of the drama that you and your husband indicated in a very brash and dramatic Facebook post.

    Anyone can go and listen to the podcast and see that the stories have been falsified and do not match up. I might suggest that you please retract your original post to reflect the truth and not a false narrative.

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