What about … Suicide

by: Stephen Marsh

September 30, 2011

/Sigh.  I’ll be missing the Priesthood Session.  I’ll be at a funeral for a friend who committed suicide.  That makes two ex-co-workers and a friend this year who committed suicide.

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Seems like just about anyone or anything can commit suicide.  Cultures, governments, institutions, people.  Especially the people.
For a while the Ensign was running a story about once a year on depression and suicide, sharing the message that mental illness that leads to death is not the same as self murder and that those who fall victim to their disease are victims, not the damned.  More recently there have been the materials on-line at http://lds.org/disability. Indeed, we’ve come a long way from the perspective that all mental illness was just considered weakness of character.
Only a trained professional should make a diagnosis of mental illness. It is often difficult for others to tell the difference between human struggles or behavior problems and mental illnesses.
There is some advice:

Ways to Help

  • Learn about mental illness from professional sources, including LDS Family Services and mental health professionals. A bishop may give a referral to a licensed therapist through LDS Family Services.
  • Treat the person with understanding and compassion. Reassure the person that Heavenly Father loves him or her.
  • Remember that mental illness is not a punishment from God.
  • Realize that a mental illness cannot be overcome by willpower alone. It does not indicate that a person lacks faith, character, or worthiness.
  • Help the person develop confidence through knowing that God supports his or her efforts to cope and build strength.
  • Do not take problems that are a result of the illness personally. People with mental illness may feel frustrated and upset because of the illness.
  • Include the person in Church activities and appropriate service opportunities. Consult with the person, family members, and others who know the person well to identify limitations as well as strengths.
  • Do not argue with delusional ideas or pursue topics that increase agitation. Be aware that stress can make the illness worse.
  • Mental illness may require a person to make major life changes. Where appropriate, prayerfully consult with priesthood leaders, family members and caregivers, professionals, and the individual concerning a need for change.

    There are a number of other resources and essays, e.g.
    But, the song to the contrary, suicide is not painless …
    What would you say to the family of someone who committed suicide?  To a recently ex-wife?  To friends? To yourself?

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    13 Responses to What about … Suicide

    1. Toni on September 30, 2011 at 4:37 PM

      Not only have I been there in regards to people I know having done themselves in, I have had the temptation myself (this is not said lightly). From my own experience, I would say poor nutrition makes it more difficult to handle the stresses of life. Of course, that is oversimplified, and not the only issue. Sometimes life is hell, and the person just can’t see any way out. Life is too difficult. Life hurts too much. It’s too scary, etc. Suicide is a horrible plague today.

      I would say, “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t about you. They are probably, right now, saying ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.'”

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    2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on September 30, 2011 at 4:51 PM

      Tori. I think you are right.

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    3. Ray on September 30, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      I’m not sure what I would say, but I know I would listen to them and try to understand what they individually need – not just to hear but, more importantly, what to have done.

      I know this is stereotyping, but women tend to be better than men in this type of situation – because of the standard male instinct to try to solve a “problem” and “fix” a situation. In my experience, people who are struggling with something like this often need support as they process their pain more than they need an immediate solution or answer.

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    4. NewlyHousewife on October 1, 2011 at 8:53 AM

      Now that Ray has said something (Sorry Toni, the only thing I could think of to follow your comment was to copy Stephen):

      Probably give them the business card to a good Non-LDS-Family-Services therapist when dropping off the funeral potatoes.

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    5. divineadvancedhumanbeings.com on October 1, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Suicide and Thinking All Hope is Lost, What Really Happens….

      Suicide is a choice made by some when it is felt by the individual that all hope is lost but when we consider all hope lost; we are listening to the wrong voice. To think that all hope is lost is a lie and we should not listen to it!!! There are no short cuts to immortality. When we commit suicide, we just pick up where we left off and we do it again.


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    6. Stephen Marsh on October 1, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      I’d have to add to the above, the question as to whether or not someone else can ever be to blame when a person commits suicide.

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    7. Michelle on October 1, 2011 at 5:48 PM

      FWIW, I wrote about this topic a while ago.


      This one has some good quotes from Elder Ballard about the topic — and about not judging those who commit suicide.


      That one also includes personal experience from a mom whose son committed suicide.

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    8. mh on October 1, 2011 at 7:41 PM

      suicide is such a terrible tragedy. the medical community knows so little about brain maladies and injuries. it will be nice when we can better diagnose and treat these brain maladies so that suicide is greatly reduced or eliminated.

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    9. Robin on October 3, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      For one of the few moments of my life, I wouldn’t hazard to say anything. I would be there to listen, hoping they would open up to speak to me about it.

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    10. Glass Ceiling on October 3, 2011 at 5:45 PM

      What about someone who is in great physical pain for years, then breaks down an does it? Are they also unforgiven in the next world as well?

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    11. Douglas on October 5, 2011 at 2:04 AM

      Let’s have compassion and understanding not only for the tortured soul that took his/her own life, but also for those that grieve, especially if somehow they are tormented with the “what could I have done to forestall this” line of thinking! Certainly the last thing that family or friends of a suicide victim need to be hearing is some insensitive, pompous, and arrogant drivel about how the departed is “dammed” or barbecuing in Hades over it! I would certainly think that Heavenly Father, who gave that person his life, would grieve the most of all, and His Son, our Brother and Savior Jesus Christ, likewise feels pain and frustration over the futility of the situation! I trust that they both would not lack in compassion…

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    12. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 5, 2011 at 5:38 AM

      Certainly the last thing that family or friends of a suicide victim need to be hearing is some insensitive, pompous, and arrogant drivel about how the departed was forced into suicide by others rather than by the disease …

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    13. Douglas on October 7, 2011 at 9:13 PM

      #12 – “by the disease”? You mean mental instability? I agree with your point, especially when some gay Mormon takes his own life because the “Church” or the members (or his family) wouldn’t “accept” his being gay. If nothing else, why let one’s innate sense of self-preservation be overcome? If that’s possible, then whatever the motivation, SOMETHING was the matter with that poor soul, and the regret is that he couldn’t be counselled or treated for whatever despair drove him to suicide in time!

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