Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Suicide

A number of years ago, there was a young man, a junior in high school about 16 years old. He was the youngest of 6 children, and the only one left living at home. His family had moved that previous summer; so, he was in a new school with no friends. His family was very active in an evangelical christian church; but, he had given up on God and had declared himself to be agnostic.

He was becoming painfully aware at how aroused he became in the locker room, yet he felt nothing when he looked at girls. He was forced to admit to himself that he might be a homosexual. All his life he had been taught that homosexuals were disgusting perverts who only sought to seduce unsuspecting boys. The idea that he might be one of them was frightening. This was in the days before the internet, before gay rights had become a political force; so, he had no where to turn. He became severely depressed, he started to withdraw within himself, his desire to live was waning. He was alone and scared - and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out.

Fortunately, for this young man, his parents recognized the warning signs. Although both of his parents worked, they did everything they could to minimize the times he was home alone by himself. They did everything they could think of to help him. Eventually, he found a friend in school, and life started to look up - he finally returned to a point where he wanted to live.

In case you haven't guessed already, that young man was me. I am no stranger to suicidal thoughts. There have been a number of times throughout my life where suicide seemed like the only viable option for me. Fortunately, for me, I'm a big wuss when it comes to pain - I've always gotten hung up on how to do it in a way that is quick, sure, and painless. The last time it happened was a few years ago - and the only thing that keeps my feet firmly planted on this earthly life are my antidepressants. It is a topic that is on my mind more than I care to admit. I've even been working on the lyrics of a song these past few weeks. Here is a rough draft
The Lost Son by Abelard Enigma
Oh please ne'er forget me though earth now lie o'er me
I was once young and handsome and my spirit ran free
But wretched confusion overcame my delusion
And a family in mourning for the son I couldn’t be.
A young lad with feelings too frightened to know
I was fearing and trembling for the loss of my soul
Amid struggle and fear my family did pray
That my demons would leave me, no longer to stay.

When I was a young boy with skin t’was so fair
And tussles of curls adorned my hair
I was thoughtful and timid, my books were my friends
I kept to myself for playmates were rare
Other boys would avoid as if I were unclean
To them I was different, another poor queer
Relentlessly teasing, they taunted and sneered
And thrashing while mocking and brought me to tears

Down trodden and saddened, I was in despair
For within me these feelings where none could compare
My family, they loved me, their souls were laid bare
But, to them I had fallen to the great tempters snare
At length, I made my choice - I wanted not to live
I dreamed of a peace only death could give
So one day when alone I found some pills
I finally found peace when laid on the hill

Oh please ne'er forget me though earth now lie o'er me
I was once young and handsome and my spirit ran free
But wretched confusion overcame my delusion
And a family in mourning for the son I couldn’t be.

My personal views are, in many ways, at odds with Affirmation (an organization for gay and lesbian mormon's). But, I do visit their suicide memorial page from time to time. And I say a little prayer for those who have given up hope.

In my last post discussing the last of the 3 main options available to gay Mormon's, playasinmar suggested a 4th option - suicide. I, rather flippantly, dismissed that as an option. But, playasinmar is right - suicide is the option of choice for many of our gay brothers and sisters, both young and old.

I have a great deal of respect for the Matis family. I feel they are a tremendous force for good in the gay Mormon community. But, I have to confess, I cringe every time I read her statement about how grateful she is that her son, Stuart, never violated his temple covenants. I'm sure it wasn't her intent; but, it seems to suggest that suicide is the preferable option to breaking ones covenants. I also cringe when I hear people say, from the pulpit, that they would rather their son come home from his mission in a casket than without his virtue intact.

I just cannot agree with that notion. Isn't taking ones life breaking covenants? Does anyone really truly believe that breaking the law of chastity is worse than murder? And isn't that what suicide is? Aren't you murdering yourself? Murder is defined as the premeditated killing of a human being by a human being. The only difference between murder and suicide is that the same person fills both roles.

Stuart Matis's bishop didn't agree with that idea either. Bishop Russell Hancock, who counseled Matis for several months, says he "pleaded with Stuart. I said if this is a choice between life and the church, he should choose his life." See "To be Gay - And Mormon" by Mark Miller.

If you are contemplating suicide, please please please talk to someone. Talk to me, I'll send you my phone number. Visit this page on the Affrimation website which contains contact information. Get yourself a boyfriend. Go to the local gay bar and apply to be a go-go boy. Join a gay affirming church. Anything is preferable to taking your own life. Your life is too precious to willingly give it up.

And, if anyone tries to tell you otherwise then they are just a poophead whose opinions are worth less than dog excrement! I pity the souls of anyone who advocates suicide as a viable option as I strongly believe they they will have to answer to God for their grievous sins.

6 comments:

playasinmar said...

See? This is why you can't avoid posting for months at a time!

Well done.

MoHoHawaii said...

Thanks for this post.

The people in our lives matter a lot more than the ideas in our lives.

Neal said...

Thanks for this touching post, Ableard. I hope it saves lives!

Neal

Additional resource that may be helpful:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will be routed to the closest possible crisis center in your area.

J G-W said...

Here's the thing...

It's not so simple as telling someone to go find a boyfriend. (Or telling someone to call a crisis hotline. No way would I have called a hotline when I was suicidal.)

I agree somewhat with Mohohawaii, good friends can help, having people in our lives we trust is good. But not always... That didn't help Stuart Matis.

I've had friends confront me and say, "Why would you encourage gay Mormons to reconcile with the LDS Church, when suicide is such a problem among gay Mormons? Shouldn't you be encouraging people to leave?"

But there's the rub... If one could solve such deeply rooted conflicts by just walking away from the Church, then it wouldn't lead to suicide, would it? You can't just walk away from the one institution that's given your whole life joy and meaning, up until you started to become aware of feelings of same-sex attraction.

This is a problem, to a certain extent, that requires our leaders to take clear, unequivocal action and make clear statements that will start to alleviate the despair. I'm afraid telling folks their only option is life-long celibacy won't do that.

Short of that, those of us who've survived have to model healthy ways of integrating our spiritual and sexual selves. And we must do this in a way that is true to the faith that gives our lives structure and meaning.

Abelard Enigma said...

It's not so simple as telling someone to go find a boyfriend. (Or telling someone to call a crisis hotline ...)

You're absolutely right, it's not that simple. My whole point is to do something, anything.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of social stigma with depression, particularly for males since we are taught from birth to hide our emotions. By the time friends and loved ones recognize depression, it may be too late.

Kalvin said...

Well, it's strange. I left the Mormon Church to pursue a fag lifestyle and now I live in SF and I still struggle with suicidal thoughts (musn't forget my pills!). Part of it is that some of us seriously do just have depression. When I was about to turn eight, I sat in the bathtub and seriously considered suicide so that I could be assured going to the celestial kingdom. I contemplated suicide often in high school without any notion of its being related to mormonism or being gay.

One thing you wrote made me really happy: that the bishop said to choose life. I will always believe more in people than ideas.