LDS apostle debunks suicide stigma, calls for community effort to prevent suicide

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LDS apostle Elder Dale G. Renlund encourages members to create a community to help prevent suicide in new video message. (YouTube photo)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a collection of videos Monday morning to encourage members to do a better job in understanding and helping prevent suicide.

The videos feature Elder Dale G. Renlund, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Carol F. McConkie, who served in the Church’s Young Women general presidency until April 2018; and two featured personal stories — one of Princess Shisso, who found hope after surviving a suicide attempt, the other of Rodolfo Beltran, who endured the suicide of his son away at college.

In one video message, Elder Renlund said suicide is tragic every time.

“What we need to do as a church is to reach out in love and caring to those who have suicidal thoughts,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Renlund said statistics show that there is most likely someone in every ward, a congregation, having suicidal thoughts. The Church is hoping to help reduce embarrassment, fight the stigma and gain understanding.

“There’s an old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever. That is totally false.” — Elder Dale G. Renlund, LDS apostle

“There’s an old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever,” Elder Renlund. “That is totally false. I believe the vast majority of cases will find that these individuals have lived heroic lives and that that suicide will not be a defining characteristic of their eternities.”

Elder Renlund shared the need for a ward community that helps one another. That community effort can involve a variety of people including healthcare professionals, ecclesiastical leaders, family and friends.

“I think Heavenly Father is pleased when we reach out and help His children,” Elder Renlund said. “I think He’s profoundly pleased. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the church as a community coming together and helping each other through this live. Heavenly Father knew it would be a challenge and He knew we would need each other’s helps.”

This video is another effort to increase understanding about suicide and to working toward preventing suicide. In January, the LDS Church joined the Utah Governor Task Force to help prevent teen suicide. In April, the Church presented an $150,000 check to the governor’s suicide prevention fund.

The collection of suicide prevention videos are on Mormon Channel’s YouTube channel.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

2 Comments

  1. Bryan Pearson Reply

    Given that so many of the youth who suicide specifically cite church policies and practices as the source of their self-loathing, and who DO REPORT their feelings of despair to church leaders, this is misdirection, and a callous disregard for the families whose stories they have ignored.

  2. Lokan Nelson Reply

    Renlund states:

    There’s an old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever. That is totally false.

    This is gaslighting. It’s not hard to see why the teachings of the LDS Church would perpetuate this idea. Here’s how easy it is:

    The Gospel Principles manual quotes President Joseph Fielding Smith:

    “In order to obtain the exaltation we must accept the gospel and all its covenants; and take upon us the obligations which the Lord has offered; and walk in the light and the understanding of the truth; and ‘live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God’ (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43).”

    Ballard taught in the Ensign:

    “I draw an important conclusion from the words of the Prophet: Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one” ..

    Although, ballard admits he doesn’t know exactly where these people will end up.

    And Boyd K. Packer taught in General Conference:

    To threaten or to take life, even our own in suicide, is to offend God, for He ” in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.” (Ether 8:19.)

    Finally, Bruce R. McConkie taught (this is the approved version of his speech), drawing from the Book of Mormon:

    “There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation. This life is the time and the day of our probation. After this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”

    So, how could any member possibly conclude that a person who commits suicide will not go to the Celestial Kingdom (the only place worth going to in LDS thought, anyway–all other kingdoms are viewed as a kind of damnation)? Perhaps it is because teachings of the LDS Church for the past 200 years lead directly to that conclusion.

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