SUICIDES AMONG JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Before beginning, it is good to note that there are many
Jehovah's Witnesses who are in good to excellent health, including mentally. However, sadly, a number are not.
Researched and written by Joe Emerson to present on the talk show of Derrick Whitt broadcast
out of Syracuse, New York, at 11 PM Eastern Standard Time (10 PM Central) on January 9, 2009; phone 347.945.7601 (Listeners'
FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
According to 2005 data, suicides in the U.S.
outnumber homicides by nearly 2 to 1 and rank 11th among leading causes of death. A 2008 report from Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy found suicide up the first time in ten years
mostly from suicides among whites aged 40-64, with white middle-aged women having the largest annual increase. Most
suicides are by males although females attempt suicide more often.
JWs are taught by Watchtower and its Elders "you are the happiest people
on Earth"* so when confronted with the reality that they or their loved ones have mental health problems, they often
as a matter of defense to keep their world from collapsing, refuse to acknowledge it. They find it much easier to go
into denial, saying the person pointing it out is wrong, lying or being cruel. *("Happy is the people whose
God is Jehovah!" Ps. 144:15)
The greatest authority on Jehovah's Witnesses
(that is, JWs) and suicide is Dr. Jerry Bergman, PhD who was formerly also an Elder among JWs. He found from 20% to
about 25% of JWs had mental problems including depression, abnormal fears and general unhappiness (Which must be higher by
now), that the rate for depression and mental illness was as much as five to ten times that of the average middle class church
As far back as 1944, a researcher named M.J. Pescor published a
study of young JWs imprisoned in the United States over draft evasion. He found that their psychosis level was seventeen
times greater than for the general population or in other words 1,700% worse; also 7% of the men were psychotic, 4% had other
mental abnormalities, 25% were socially maladjusted. Some 16% were on hospital status and 44% of those were psychotic.
Psychotic means having an abnormal condition of the mind but generally involves a "loss
of contact with reality" such as hallucinations or delusions, possibly disorganized thinking with unusual or bizarre
behavior, difficulty with social interaction and impairment in daily living.
Swiss psychiatrist J. Janner found in a 1963 report that of 100 Swiss in prison over objecting to military service 10/4% had
previous criminal convictions of which about 50% were for sex crimes such as being pedophiles or exhibitionists, the other
50% being for minor property and offences against persons.
The Australian psychiatrist
Spencer did research in Western Australia's psychiatric hospitals in 1971 to 1973 and he concluded that the rate
of serious mental illness among them was 300% higher than for non-JWs, and the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia was 400%
OR HASN'T WATCHTOWER ALREADY CAUSED MASS SUICIDES
Watchtower in fact has had
policies against use of whole blood, in the past also against organ transplants and vaccines, and those have
already led people to choose death. One estimate is 200,000 deaths among JWs refusing emergency blood use. Watchtower
has also put JWs into conflicts with governments such as in Malawi, Argentina etc. Their forcing JWs who have some
paranoia to go to door after door may help contribute to worsen paranoia.
since 1972 they have had a policy of telling Bodies Of Elders that they don't have to automatically delete fellow Elders
who have sexual perversions such as pedophilia if their confession occurred several years since committing the crimes and
word of it didn't become widely known beyond the Elders. Often the pedophiles no only molest children but have additional
mental health concerns.
DR JERRY BERGMAN SAYS WATCHTOWER WAS ALREADY TOLD
says he definitely told Watchtower officials about the mental problems among JWs decades ago, but they said Jehovah's
organization on earth is perfect and he had no business trying to tell them what to do. Watchtower said all that JWs
with problems needed to do was pray, study and go out preaching at doors. They also told Bergman that even if it is
true that many JWs have mental health issues, his talking openly about it would make Watchtower look badly and so he needed
to shut up about it.
They said that they felt that Armageddon was so close at hand
that even if the mental health of JWs is a major issue, it did not come close to mattering. Even if some Watchtower
policy caused a JW to suffer mentally, well, in the end he would get eternal life so suffering now was no big deal.
TENSION WITH AND AMONG ELDERS
Bergman notes that few JWs question major Watchtower teachings. Elders exhibit inhumanity and inhumane
behavior, and not all but many Elders are Watchtower-appointed Elders just to satisfy their desire for status instead of out
of true concerns for JW brothers and sisters. Although many JWs make a point to speak loyally of the Watchtower, they
speak poorly of or with doubts about local Elders. They seem to think Watchtower is perfect although its members and
leaders are imperfect.
This makes for a love-hate relationship in which many JWs try to
avoid conflict even where individual Elders or sometimes an entire Body Of Elders may bully and harass. There are some
Elders who try to do a great job and unfortunately do not take a real vacation from work and Watchtower preaching for
years on end so that all the time they, their wives and families suffer enormously.
DISFELLOWSHIPPING CAUSING SUICIDES
When JWs are in need, as when traveling, they can get help from other JWs, which is a very loving thing. But
when a JW doubts the Watchtower, there is hatred directed against such persons. Watchtower has a policy of teaching those
JWs who stay in the organization to hate those who leave it and Watchtower calls those who leave it apostates, meaning against
Bergman notes that the hatred directed against those who quit the Watchtower Society
can sometimes result in suicides, homicides or even multiple murders, and he has documented it in a book called Jehovah's
Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Health (Clayton, CA: Witnesses, Inc., 1990).
CALLING FOR STRONGER FBI INVESTIGATIONS
Bergman notes that Watchtower exemplifies that "power
corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Dunn's credit report showed that in 1992 they had an
income of $1,250,000,000 no even counting more income from stocks, land and other sources. He calls for the government
to investigate Watchtower as he is aware of much corruption and many violations of state laws such as on taxes and ordinances.
Silentlambs.org has also called for an FBI investigation over the child molestation issue and helped attorneys like Love and
Norris in Texas as well as Jeff Anderson of Minnesota who have won some enormous legal settlements for victims over the pedophilia
issue, for example in Napa and the Los Angeles or Riverside areas of California.
LACK OF FREEDOM;
YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVING
Those who are JWs do not have the freedom to enjoy Christian music, attend a church of their own choice, choose friends
based on how nice they are instead of their being in Watchtower; not being free to socialize with people of other religions
without being pushed to convert them. Watchtower misinterpretations cause problems for JWs over flag salutes, drafts
etc. JWs are not allowed to view books, TV shows, internet websites etc critical of Watchtower.
JWs are told that reputable newspaper and news reporters that carry critical reports are biased, lie,
are tools of Satan. They are not permitted to attend or participate in most school functions as with holiday parties
and sports activities which causes them to be much more socially isolated or withdrawn and socially under-developed.
They are constantly pressured to attend religious meetings, depriving them as individuals and entire families from relaxing,
enjoyable activities that could relieve them of much stress. Some have gone years without a true vacation and
when taking a vacation have coupled it with preaching, making it not an actual vacation.
is no wonder that the reputable Pew Forum states as a statistic that it found in 2008 that in the general U.S. population
67% of those who admitted they were raised in a JW household stopped being JWs after growing up and leaving home. That
figure may be even higher when applied not to the general population but the most recent group of young JW adults from, say,
ages 18 to 29.
Some JWs believe from Watchtower teachings that they are in a more elite
group called the Anointed who go to heaven while most all regular JWs are in a class called the Little Flock who cannot go
to heaven or partake of the wine and bread emblems in memory of Christ. All JWs, at least after being baptized,
are told they must report on one another and when called upon to do so severely shun their own sons, daughters, husbands,
wives, other relatives, friends, work associates after those quit the Watchtower.
are also urged to break the law about confidentiality records when they work as secretaries for doctors, lawyers, counselors
and or other professionals; that is, to divulge confidential information to Watchtower Elders when the information shows something
that Watchtower considers against its views of what is morally proper.
WATCHTOWER INVADES HUSBAND-WIFE SEX
Even JW husbands and wives are told to report on one another if there is some sexual activity that they
have done such as oral or non-missionary style sex. Sexuality is a normal fact of life for all normal people; therefore
JWs commonly carry guilt around with themselves, due to Watchtower's unnatural interference in the holy bonds of matrimony.
Paul at 1 Timothy 4:1,3 says in the Jerusalem Bible "The Spirit has explicitly
said that there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listen to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from
the devils;... they will say marriage is forbidden." Watchtower has used this scripture
against the Catholic church's policy of not letting priests marry but ignored that Watchtower in the 1920s and 1930s opposed
marriage and sex for JWs; still oppose non-missionary style sex among married JWs.
Golden Age magazine was the forerunner of the Awake! magazine. On January 1, 1937
its article called, 'That Delusion Called ‘Love' made weird comments about sex and marriage. The March 1, 1937
Watchtower magazine on page 77 backed up those views noting that "God's consecrated people" need "to
shun love-making with the opposite sex because it is one of the things that the Devil has fostered and leads away from undivided
devotion to Jehovah and therefore brings reproach upon His name." The Watchtower article said it "fully endorses
the article in The Golden Age,... The publications of the Society for the last ten or twelve years have emphasized
the very same thing that is set forth in the article in The Golden Age."
As shown in numerous publications by Watchtower's then President Joseph Rutherford, he gave as an excuse
that he just knew that Armageddon was about to it. It would seem, then, that he had a mental delusion or was being led
by either imbibing too much of alcoholic spirits or, as some have also suggested, was consulting with spirits in the sense
Diane Wilson was a JW for 25 years. In
her book, Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape From the Watchtower Society, she exposed how Watchtower's
misteachings ruined lives. She has said that she personally knew JWs so afraid of God killing them that they
drove themselves into mental breakdowns trying to do what all the Watchtower said. She knew a JW woman who
did not take time out to personal groom herself because it would take time away from serving Jehovah. She says "in
their fervor, many Witnesses become mentally unbalanced." http://www.amazon.com/Jehovahs-Witnesses-Problem-Mental-Illness/dp/9993195286
OF SOME OTHERS
Mark Palo, Rick Fearon and others have given presentations
on fear among JWs. Watchtower imparts fear of matters dealing with sex, sports, celebrating holidays, Armageddon, demons,
taking transfusions to stay alive. Watchtower's Elders have enormous power and since great power corrupts greatly,
they are very corrupt with their power, yet most having hardly any education. Statistically, only 4.7% of all JWs have
been to college. These fears sometimes lead to mood swings, substance abuse and suicides.
JWs are taught to normally not lie even if it hurts
them, but they are taught that it is okay to lie if that is necessary to protect the Watchtower or to gain something for Watchtower's
benefit as it claims to be the only organization that speaks for Jehovah God Almighty upon the face of the Earth.
The lying is the verbal part of what is called the Theocratic Warfare doctrine which often comes
into play into courtrooms as in child custody cases and is also used against ex-JWs whom Watchtower teaches are "hateful,
bitter" and evil apostates even though many to most ex-JWs are friendly and often left Watchtower not because of doing
anything bad but because they disagreed about its false predictions, some doctrinal views, or its dangerous policies of keeping
and protecting child molesting Elders and outlawing blood transfusions even when it means the life of an adult JW, teen, child
It is less known but there are also less commonly used physical aspects
to Theocratic Warfare. For example ex-JWs regarded as strongly opposed to Watchtower or its appointed Elders, that is
ex-JWs who are viewed as unusually capable of doing damage to Watchtower's image or money sources as in pedophilia lawsuits
and the potential for those, have complained for example of what may be not only wiretapping, but also of vandalism, being
pushed, tapped on the back, thumped on the collar, treaded down which means pushed down on one of their shoulders, threatened
with violence such as caning and other physical harassment.
A FEW OF THE SUICIDES
"CJ was a JW for more than 25 years and faithful in every way. She was always a 'sister in good standing'.
Her first husband committed suicide in the 1970's after being disfellowshipped for smoking. Originally from Indiana, she
had been living in Tucson, Arizona the same town where I grew up. She had two young children left at home, a son, Derrick,
13 years old and a granddaughter, Jamie who is 10. She also had two daughters in their 20's, Rebekah and Lily." #
L Kreider of the Downey North Congregation (in late 40s) hanged himself. December 1996.
An Elder used accelerants to blew up the Bates City Missouri Kingdom Hall in late July 2008 and kill himself. http://www.myfoxkc.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7071308&version=5&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1
CAMDENTON: suicide by unnamed Jehovah's Witness man in 2001
who lay on railroad track
COLUMBIA - Not a suicide case
but indicative of mental and criminal problems among JWs is a case that appeared in a newspaper of December 19, 2006.
A masked man fired several shots into a crowd and wounded a 36 year old woman outside the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom
Hall on a Monday night, and then he ran off. A Sergeant Ken Hammond of the Major Crimes Unit said "We
haven't determined if the individual that was struck by gunfire was the target of the assailant or someone else in the
congregation," said Sgt. Ken Hammond of the Major Crimes Unit."
In nearby Jefferson City, Missouri, at least one ex-JW woman was said have shown a gun and told her former JW husband
that she would shoot him if he didn't leave her alone. http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/11/125936/1.ashx
INDEPENDENCE: The Noland Congregation (later compacted into other congregations)
had the suicide of Jehovah's Witness Vonda (Hayes) James who was the wife of Richard Hayes who was disfellowshipped allegedly
for blaming the elders for helping lead up to if not cause her death or suicide which came after the taking of some pills
A note from "Shelby" says on Friday Oct. 31 1973 at Bethel about 9:30 firefighters recovered the
body of Bethelite James Olsen who had suicided. http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/forum/thread.asp?id=23826&site=3
WADSWORTH: Devon Brannan in his early 30's died 1986 by
suicide after being disfellowshipped.
KEIZER: Ernie Miranda in his early 30s died in 1989 or 1990
of suicide with gunshot wound to head.
BROOKINGS: Elsie Wilson (61) died 1992
by suicide after being disfellowshipped for tobacco use (Read on jehovahs-witness.com)
REDMOND: Judy Kohler in her 40s died during 1983-88 from suicide (Read on jehovahs-witness.com)
The following summarizes a long posting by "Sebastian" the moderator at the link.
It does not direct deal with suicide but does speak of criminal insanity when telling of wiretapping, something many others
have commented upon as believed taking place among some JWs and congregations:
There was a lawsuit involving alleged
Jehovah's Witnesses regarding electronic recording and spying. The case was submitted and argued December 3, 2003
and later filed March 2, 2005. It was held before the court of appeals of Oregon. It was enacted by guardians
named Ronald H. Checkley and Lon A. Bryant on behalf of Shad Alan Wagner a distressed Jehovah's Witness of low IQ against
James Timothy Boyd who represented the estate of deceased Charles Boyd, Bimla Boyd and the Keizar Congregation of Jehovah's
Witnesses in Salem, Oregon.
Attorney Kim E. Hoyt represented the
congregation, Kelly W.G. Clark represented the appellant. Before Haselton, Presiding Judge, and Linder and
Ortega, Judges. The congregation got off the hook but the case is still can be located at 95C-12611; A117996 (Appeal
from Circuit Court, Marion County. Richard D. Barber was the head Judge) You may be able to access this more fully by signing
in at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=or&vol=A117996&invol=1 read originally at
Bill Bibbee in the Preston Park congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was an Elder for 40 years with the heavenly hope since
1965 and he shot himself (to death) in the shower to avoid making a mess. (Read on jehovahs-witness.com)
BROOKINGS: Elsie Wilson (61) died 1992 by suicide after being disfellowshipped for tobacco use (Read