Op-ed: Responding to Ellen on Mormons and teen suicide

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  • M_Hawke Golden, CO
    Sept. 20, 2018 12:16 a.m.

    I can't stand it when people quote that suicide is the leading cause of death among teens in Utah. First of all, it is #2. #1 is accidents. Secondly, this is true for just about every state in the US: #1 cause of teen death is accidents, #2 is suicide. And also true for just about every state in the US is that the teen suicide rate is increasing. Not unique to Utah, and therefore, quit trying to do the guilt by association, thing. Teen suicide rates are also climbing among many other nations as well. Dan Reynolds spouts off facts and figures, which are accurate, but does not disclose that those facts and figures are from studies and analyses of the general population and LGBT teens as a whole, but he attributes them to Utah and to the church.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    July 13, 2018 1:15 p.m.

    The mental gymnastics in this comments section is almost as amazing as the article.

  • equal protection Cedar, UT
    June 25, 2018 7:38 p.m.

    Lost my son recently to suicide. Although the reasons are complex and different for everyone, I would divided the reasons for my sons death in thirds. 1. LDS religious dogma. 2. Lack of coping skills. 3. Easy access to guns by a trouble family member in crisis. If one of the 3 legs of the stool could have been addressed in time, he might still me alive.

  • Kaydell Layton, UT
    June 23, 2018 8:47 a.m.

    Whenever you read the statistics from any scientific study, you have to be careful not to confuse causation with correlation.

    For example, the article seems to imply that among the people going to church, they are less likely to commit suicide. This may be true, but you can't necessarily infer that the relationship is that going to church protects your children from dying at their own hand.

    I believe that it is likely that something else could be going on, at least partly.

    When I feel bad, I am less likely to go to church and when I feel bad I am more likely to kill myself. This is just as plausible.

    Don't get me wrong. I think that the LDS Church has been good to me in some ways such as getting priesthood blessings. I can't prove it, but I feel it in my soul.

  • Siopu Salt Lake City, UT
    June 22, 2018 4:11 p.m.

    Sure, blame the Church/Utah don't blame the social media, pornography, and video games. What a crack up! Lol too much HateRation!!! Have a sneaker Allen Iverson lol

  • Ann Blake Tracy Henderson, NV
    June 21, 2018 9:14 p.m.

    Excellent & well researched article! From the day I brought in a camera crew from a San Francisco news station in the early 90's to address the explosion in prescribions for Prozac in Utah psychiatrists have pointed their finger at the Mormon Church as they ignore the multiple fiadngers pointing right back at them as they do so! The rate of prescribing was so high I told Governor Mike Leavitt, the pharmaceutical companies needed no laboratories long as they have Utah. I remember one OBGYN reported he had 800 women on it for PMS!

    Now that so much has come out on antidepressants causing suicide in both children & adults about a decade & a half ago the FDA mandated suicidal ideation warnings be placed on all antidepressants for anyone under 25. These Warnings have been basically ignored & suicides by those on the drugs in Utah gone undocumented for decades. Of all the reasons being given for increased suicide in youth antidepressants are the only one that has official warnings & research that they cause suicidal thoughts & actions. So it just might be a good idea to finally start looking at that connection both in use & in withdrawal from these drugs.

  • Flex Jargon Ventura, CA
    June 21, 2018 2:00 p.m.

    Utah has an exceptionally high rate of opioid addiction and porn consumption. Both are well known contributors to loneliness and depression. I'd sure take a look at the possible connections there before I'd blame an over-conservative value system...

  • Oomatrix Hyrum, UT
    June 21, 2018 10:33 a.m.

    Ellen has done more for LGBTQ+ youth than the Mormon church ever has, or ever will. Criticizing her is a low-class move.

  • Hockey Fan Miles City, MT
    June 21, 2018 10:00 a.m.

    Montana has the highest suicide rate in the nation. What is Ellen's non-empirical attribution for that?

  • Steve Bahadur San Diego, CA
    June 21, 2018 2:12 a.m.

    If you are LGBT in a Mormon environment and you are seen as "less than" or "not as good as" straight people you are less likely to continue attending the church. To say that attendance at church is a preventative is a specious argument. If you are looked down on, and please don't tell me that Mormons don't look down on LGBT people, you are not in a safe environment. To tell a LGBT person that all they need to do is go to church more is just absurd. What needs to happen is for the Mormon community to openly embrace LGBT people as equal, support marriage equality. Until that time occurs, why should LGBT people feel comfortable in the church?

  • Goddess Divine Orem, UT
    June 21, 2018 12:02 a.m.

    While some people love the Mormon church because they had awesome experiences. There are some people that had horrible experiences within the Mormon church and don’t like the church. It’s normal. Cause and effect, right?
    For some people the church can help them with their depression, but for others that’s have suffered abuse within them church, it’s just the opposite and talking about church can cause Religious Trauma Syndrome, which is Post Traumatic Syndrome caused by religion, there are many cases with different religions , not just the Mormons. There are cases of this syndrome among Catholics, Jews, Amish, etc.
    I have talked to different psychiatrists and counselors in Utah and they all agreed that LGBT Mormons have a higher risk of suicide than non religious LGBT. Some of these counselor have lost patients to suicide. Talking about these issues is not about attacking the church. It’s about preventing suicide and learning about the different factors that contribute to suicide. When we put the image of any church ahead the well being of people we are not being very Christlike. It takes honesty and courage to admit to the truth and then work together to correct mistakes.

  • Flynn Ryder Orem, UT
    June 20, 2018 11:13 p.m.

    Please don't lay the suicides of these young kids at the feet of the LDS Church. I know, everybody wants someone to blame for this sad situation, so they look to an easy target, the Church. These confused young people are being led around by groups who offer support of: mental health counseling, parades and flags, slogans, and so forth in order to portray normalcy. If things are so normal, is the mental health thing just to keep them from committing suicide? A good young man in our ward finally came out last year and immediately stopped going to church. If anything, we would have tried to make sure that he was included, but never got the chance. And these are the kids, according to the studies, who become more prone to suicides. This tells me that staying within the church helps them--if they want it, and leaving it gives them even less hope. So let's not blame the Church or heterosexuals for this situation.

  • bookjunky Ogden, UT
    June 20, 2018 6:55 p.m.

    Of the 600 families from the Family Foundations of Youth Development study, how many of those teens were part of the LGBT community? Suicide rates in Utah among LGBTQ teens and young adults are increasing because of the disdain they get from the church. Look at how fast the numbers went up when the church announced that children of gay couples could no longer be baptized, or that you couldn't be baptized or go on a mission if you identified as gay. Religion may not be the leading cause of suicide among teens and young adults (or adults for that matter), but to dismiss it outright as a cause would be completely irresponsible.

  • Nickelsworth Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2018 4:07 p.m.

    For generations we have taught our children and each other the principles of right and wrong - and rightly so. Let us add to that focus with equal intensity the need to forgive ourselves.

  • RebelScum Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2018 3:59 p.m.

    In this day and age it's not hard to find statistics to support most positions. But reality isn't necessarily that easy. I had a close friend who was gay and killed himself. His suicide note pointed directly to the way he was being treated by his local ward members and leaders. Several years ago a neighbor's child killed himself because of, in his parents words, "the way he was treated by the church." And last but not least. Someone very close to me recently came out. She also talked about suicide, and her stated reason was because she is, "terrified about how the church and some LDS family members will treat her."

    Like it or not. Reality is not always in the statistics. We must take into consideration the human factor. Always.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    June 20, 2018 3:22 p.m.

    We choose what paths we will follow in this life from Celibacy to to sex for pro-creation, to sex for animal lust and gratifications. To suggest we have no choice is to suggest we have no power to control our urges. Therefore, when a person feels the "urge" to kill some one out of anger, they should use the argument that God made them that way, and therefore, they have no responsibility for what they do?

    I am a great believer in our God given right of agency. I do not believe that any one should be compelled to make certain choices. However, I am also a firm believer that God created us all, that we all have the potential to become gods, and that God has revealed the correct formula for achieving our highest potential. And, I do not for one second believe that we can ignore God's guidance, and then demand from God the blessings He has in store for those who choose to be obedient to HIS guiding counsels. The final aliment of agency is consequence, and God is the final judge in that. All of us are commanded (by God) to not judge one another, and this goes both ways!

  • Anonymous 1234 Ogden, UT
    June 20, 2018 2:30 p.m.

    As a survivor of attempted suicide while serving an LDS mission, I completely agree with Ellen. I was continually told that I was never doing a good enough job and was constantly being chastised. I chose to to serve a mission to serve God, but found myself instead being a salesman for a religion that lacked any forgiveness or love. I asked to leave early and was told that returning home early in shame would be worse than returning home dead. So I attempted to kill myself to avoid the shame. I didn’t find love or forgiveness until after I left the Mormon church. I think it’s time that Mormons accept the fact that they aren’t the saints they think they are. I applaud Ellen for bringing this to light and wish Mormons would take a look at themselves instead of claiming they are being falsely accused. The shame I felt and was imposed upon by active Mormon members after I returned home was almost enough to push me towards suicide again, but luckily I joined a Post-Mormon support group that provided the love and compassion I never felt while an active Mormon.

  • tiga79 Orem, UT
    June 20, 2018 2:12 p.m.

    How silly of someone with so much influence to share non-fact backed statements like what Ellen shared. I actually really enjoy a lot of the stuff she has to say, but I don't know that ill pay much attention to her anymore.

    My membership in the LDS church and using resources available to me from the LDS church STOPPED me from committing suicide.

  • ExCon Lehi, UT
    June 20, 2018 1:54 p.m.

    Shame on Ellen for blaming the Mormons for "shaming". The Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, doesn't teach the members of the church to shame anybody. You should know not to blame a group based upon the actions of a few. Apparently you don't understand that fact.

  • SLCBenny Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2018 1:52 p.m.

    Some of you have brought up that the statement about "Suicide being the leading cause of death for 10-17 y/o" is incorrect. However, if you google the current Utah Department of Health Suicide Factsheet which covers through 2015 (they haven't put out an updated factsheet and most likely won't for a couple of years as they tend to follow a time period study model). Again if you google this fact sheet you will see that the Utah Department of Health as of it's most recent study that has been released, classified suicide as the leading cause of death for 10 to 17 y/o's in Utah.
    "Utah Trends
    The 2014 Utah youth suicide rate was 8.5 per 100,000
    population ages 10 to 17.1,4 It is the leading cause of
    death for this age group.1 The rate of suicide among
    Utah youth ages 10 to17 has been increasing since
    2011" -The Utah Department of Health

    Just wanted to point out that the statement is correct if you are looking at the Health Department's data.

  • lightdee Highland, UT
    June 20, 2018 10:13 a.m.

    Thanks for a well-reasoned article. Reckless and religion-attacking statements from a self-promoting celebrity are not welcome.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 19, 2018 6:57 p.m.


    No offense but the most authoritative research shows that environment has far more to do with homosexuality than genetics. Asking a person to say "when did you decide you were straight" is not even answerable because if it was environment it would be just as impossible to answer.

    So yes - "do some research" is an applicable statement - but not necessarily for Laurie8

    There are 1000s of people who were straight - went gay - then back, or any number of combinations. That fact strongly argues against a genetic reason. Just because a person claims "I have always felt gay" does not argue one way or the other and having a tough time changing your orientation likewise does not argue one way or the other. By the time you are old enough to have those urges it's way too late to determine if it was genetic or environment.

    Years ago - before this was even a political issue - Boy George made it clear in an interview that he was not attracted to guys till he was immersed in the lifestyle.

    From a scientific standpoint Natural selection would quickly and completely eradicate the "gay gene". "Born that way" is a political construct, not a scientific one.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    June 19, 2018 3:03 p.m.


    I don't care whether or not you feel shame for your beliefs; that's for you to be concerned about. You are bearing false witness that it is a choice; it is not -- and no we don't "respectfully disagree" about that. There is a ton of evidence on this subject; please educate yourself about it before spreading more false information. It is false like this that causes LGBT kids feel the need to commit suicide. I know from personal experience; and I tried for 30 years to change! It is NOT a choice. I wish you well also, but I want you to please do your research on the subject.

  • KevinRex , OR
    June 19, 2018 2:28 p.m.

    Thank you for your handling delicately this issue. I grew up Mormon and gay, and tried following all the commandments and rules of my era. I was born in 1963. You should have mentioned the many ways that a survey can be so easily skewed via reactivity and other psychological factors. So many teens are on various spectrums of religiosity, as are adults, and a simple survey question can't capture that. Having lived through being gay and Mormon, and having had my own bouts of suicidal ideations, which I attribute primarily to the cognitive dissonance of so many Mormon doctrines, perhaps this one quote from an LDS Church leader will help others see the connection between quickly reaching the afterlife (suicide) in order to be accepted and "changed" to be "normal" per LDS definition.

    "If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then--you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true. But Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it MUST be true. . . " (Bruce C. Hafen, Evergreen International 19th Annual Conference on September 19, 2009)

  • Laurie8 San Tan Valley, AZ
    June 19, 2018 2:12 p.m.

    Ranch, I'm assuming by quoting a commandment that you want me to feel shame because of my beliefs and experiences and because I shared the experiences of what I was told by two gay men who are in my life. Just so you know some of my comment was removed from my previous post and I wont restate it, but in it I made it clear why I feel the way I do. We respectfully disagree on choice or no choice. I have a view point that differs from yours because of my experiences and you have a view point that is different from mine because of your experiences. I think the point to be made is to to be kind and have compassion for others no matter how we live our lives. Clearly I dont speak for you, but I think we can agree on that. The gay friends and family I have know where I stand, but they also know how much I love them. I do apologize for insinuating that the LGBT lifestyle is always caused by pornography. I was wrong. Sincerely Ranch, while we dont agree on this issue, I do wish you the best in your life!

  • Highland Horseman American Fork, UT
    June 19, 2018 2:06 p.m.

    In Response to Spectrum mom:

    “activity in the church are social qualifiers” – LDS members do and are encouraged to be-friend people of other faiths. I just returned from a week long fishing trip with a lifelong friend who is not of my faith, but who’s friendship I cherish.

    “kids ... told they’re not good enough ... sleepovers, parties ... date because they’re not LDS.” – Individual character is always key to choosing friends. Loving LDS parents do give counsel about dating to someday guide their teenagers towards a faith based marriage.

    “When denomination is ... justification for ostracism ...” – False by every precept of the LDS Church. The Church is made up of imperfect people with challenges, weaknesses and problems who are trying to be more Christ like. No person is ostracized over denomination. Quite the opposite, I have seen people of other faiths and inactive members ostracize themselves.

    I’m a convert to the LDS faith when in my early 20s. I raised 6 children in the LDS faith and I have 24 grandchildren. Many LDS people living in Utah have large families and extended families nearby. Be it how it may, there is often limited time for nurturing other friendships.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    June 19, 2018 11:15 a.m.


    When did you choose yourself to be straight? Date/time please.

    I never made a choice to be gay, I just am. I have *always* been attracted to other males, as long as I can recall - "viewing porn" had nothing to do with it.

    Please do some research, you are spreading false information (thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, remember that commandment?)

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 19, 2018 8:26 a.m.

    "As we consider these findings in a highly homogenous religious state like Utah, we acknowledge that a higher rate of suicidal ideation for non-LDS youths in Utah may speak to a need for better integration of non-LDS youths within schools and local communities."

    I think this is a key point. Having recently moved back to Utah I am surprised at how insular Utah communities still are. The division between member and non-member is huge. Living in the "mission field" our kids had no choice but to associate with non-members. Almost all of them great kids. But here, there is little reason to have to reach out to non-member kids. And some parents overtly discourage their kids from associating with non-members - trying to keep their kids "safe".

    I don't think it is usually overt. You befriend those you see most often. With church life so important, its a natural outcome. We consciously need to more welcoming to those who don't practice their faith as we do. In the end we are all brothers and sisters, no matter where we do or don't worship on Sundays.

    I'v lost too many friends to suicide... we can stop this.

  • Laurie8 San Tan Valley, AZ
    June 19, 2018 4:11 a.m.

    JD had made a comment about being gay not being a choice, but I totally disagree with JD. My father and a friend of my child both admitted that looking at pornography is what started them down the path of deciding to be gay. The sexual excitement they received from the pornography was heightened when they began looking at gay porn. I've heard many times, why would a gay person choose to be gay? They choose it because now the world makes it seem so wonderful and inclusive, but before the world made it a wonderful thing, sexual gratification has always been the motivator. I am not unkind to people that are gay or have gender issues, but I just don't believe that a person is born gay or was born the wrong gender.

    I followed my daughters internet activity when she was a teen and she was watching videos of boys being flamboyant acting, talking and dressing like women and I blocked her internet access and spoke at length to her about what she had been watching and how it affected her. Now that she is an adult she can see how the videos were titillating to her and changing her thoughts. Everything is a choice but love & kindness should always be shown no matter what.

  • kim c DFW, TX
    June 18, 2018 7:35 p.m.

    Here’s the bottom line: should we, as humans, regardless of our religion, race, nationality, etc., be kinder, more loving, and more Christlike to each other? Absolutely. The issue I have with Ellen and Dan’s discussion is that it won’t be enough as long as our beliefs include marriage being one man and one woman. That belief which has been a core belief in many religions for centuries, and has been reaffirmed in scripture and by modern prophets, is now being viewed as offensive, intolerant, and bigotry.
    I agree we absolutely need to do better researching and speaking openly about mental health and suicide. Every one is a child of God that is priceless and worthy of love period.

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 18, 2018 6:49 p.m.


    I love the "do some research" responses that completely miss what was said in the original post. I know Runnells supposedly authored the letter, and perhaps he did. But the letter is by no means an honest persons attempt at getting questions answered. it's just an obvious collection of anti-mormon rants that was runnels collected. Every "question" is easy to answer if the person wants to hear an answer. In fact every one of the "questions" are quite inane.

    I never said that the author was anonymous - I said that the supposed CES director was anonymous. It gives the lie more weight if you can claim that a trusted person is "refusing" to help the "honest" seeker of truth. It's one of the oldest scams in the world. Runnels would absolutely have named the CES director if there was one.

    But here's the kicker - If you are so interested in truth why don't you try and find real answers to these "questions". I promise they are not that difficult to find for an honest seeker of truth.

    Also - you would have been better criticizing my use of "it's self" rather than "itself"

    Finally - my point is, Impatrtial7 claims the letter is on the church web site - it isn't .

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 18, 2018 3:42 p.m.

    Just because somebody says something... doesn't make it true. I hope Dan and Ellen know that.

    Just because you hear someone say, "the leading cause of death for youth in Utah is suicide"... doesn't make it true. Even if somebody writes it on your cue-card to read on the show.

    I trust the CDC on the facts, numbers, data, statistics on stuff like this. It's their job to track stuff like this. I realize that she may hear different or have from people around her. But that doesn't make them true. The CDC has been tracking this for a long time.

    I assume Ellen is well intended, and just trusted and believed the person who told her "The leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17 is suicide”. But somebody telling you that doesn't make it true. No matter how much you trust them. Even a little research proves that statement is false.

    As for stating, "suicide in Utah is a result of the LDS church"... that's impossible to prove. So she can say it all she wants. But she can not say, “The leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17 is suicide"... that's plain untrue (according to the CDC and NIH).

    I hope she researches it and corrects her statement.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 18, 2018 2:51 p.m.

    RE: “The leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17 is suicide,” she said, reading from a card. “Suicide in Utah has increased 141 percent because of the shame they feel from the Mormon Church"...
    Don't know how much research Ellen or Dan did before reading the card.

    Google "NIMH » Suicide"...

    Some facts, data, and Quotes from the National Institute of Mental Health (not a talk show host)...

    - Suicide is not the #1 cause of death for any age group, in any State (Source CDC)
    See Figure 1 "Leading Cause of Death in the United States"...

    "Unintentional Injury" is #1 cause of death for all age groups 10-44, then #1 becomes malignancies and heart disease. Contrary to Ellen's card.

    Suicide is not #1 cause of death for any age group (contrary to her que-card)

    -The age group with highest suicide rate is those over 65 (see Figure 2)

    -Age 10-14 and 15-25 had the lowest suicide rates (see Figure 2: "Suicide rates for males and females by age in the United States")

    Don't know where Ellen got the stuff on her que-card, but the CDC doesn't agree with Ellen's card.

    Good to talk about it. But with facts.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    June 18, 2018 11:55 a.m.

    What a well-researched and balanced statement this article makes. I appreciate and take personally the responsibility to check my own attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

    Too bad that Ellen would use her influence to misinform in this manner, casting shade on a group of people who, it appears to me, are generally very supportive of her and her work even though not always in agreement with her.

    I hope she'll use her pulpit to amend her comments.

    Same for the Dan the musician and his.

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    June 18, 2018 9:14 a.m.

    For entertainers, musicians and comedians to point the finger of scorn at religion and ideas as a cause for ones own decisions and choices is foolish and short sighted at best. The best place to look for blame is in the mirror.

  • Spectrum mom Las Vegas, NV
    June 18, 2018 2:48 a.m.

    As I read this article and the comments made there’s an awful trend on display. The article’s focus is to absolve the church of having a negative influence on these tragic events. Activity in the church is even promoted as a solution to teen suicide. None of the authors or commenters are willing to acknowledge the social pressure of the LDS culture, they are simply applying that pressure viciously. In LDS culture membership and activity in the church are social qualifiers. How many kids in UT have been told they’re not good enough to date because they’re not LDS? Sleepovers, parties? Not with non-members. How many questions are kids answering regarding church affiliation when telling parents about a new friend rather than individual character? In a community which is pre-dominantly one denomination, that church has an obligation to review how its sub-culture is impacting EVERYONE. When denomination is an accepted justification for ostracism of a single child of God that says something very ugly about that denomination and it’s members. So let’s stop writing an indictment of Ellen for asking the question, and start looking in the mirror and honestly answering the question.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    June 17, 2018 11:35 p.m.


    "Utah has led the nation in male teenage suicides since the early 70's"

    Do you have a source for this claim?

  • Rockyrd Gilbert, AZ
    June 17, 2018 10:06 p.m.

    I assume Ellen and Dan are good, sincere people. However, their comments, based on opinion, not research, are typical of modern daytime television. Celebrities say something and it becomes "truth" to millions of people just because the celebrity said it. The same thing applies to evening newscasts. Opinions are offered as news, or facts are omitted, and because a certain newscast is our preferred source for news, we swallow what is said hook, line, and sinker. Critical thinking is neglected but should be applied to anything we listen to, view, or read.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2018 8:53 p.m.


    The CES letter is not "anonymous." A quick Google search would tell you that the author was Jeremy Runnells and that he was later excommunicated by the LDS Church. Sometimes it helps to investigate the facts before you make up your mind about certain claims.

  • JD Las Vegas, NV
    June 17, 2018 8:49 p.m.

    I can't believe how mean the comments are towards Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen has saved so many lives for her willingness to live her life in the public eye as a leader in the gay community. She is one of the most kind and gentle souls to exist and she gives of herself to others with unbelievable generosity. Ellen literally saves lives every day in the LGBTQ community by being such a wonderful example and truly caring about all those who struggle daily; and who are bullied; and who are disowned by their families. She might not have the exact details of what is the norm in Mormon culture, but she certainly is not blind to the fact that hate and disapproval can lead people to do foolish things like commit suicide. Ask any member of the LGBTQ community, and you'll find a majority that would say that Ellen is one of their heroes. For somebody to think she is a horrible individual and that she acts immaturely is somebody that has not a clue as to how generous Ellen is to society. I can't believe she is a target from Mormon readers. Yet, we have a President who sets a fine example daily. In heaven, I wanna be with Ellen! Remember, "for with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged."

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    June 17, 2018 8:48 p.m.

    The discussion on the topic of suicide is good and necessary. Too many lives are being lost no matter their religion, sexual orientation or celebrity status. Many commenters are too narrowly focused on a religion as a solitary cause of suicides. However, suicide is a very complex issue and the study itself calls out that it is a combination of factors that lead to suicide. See the two paragraphs below from a recent Deseret news article:

    "The CDC notes suicide typically arises from a combination of factors. Its list ranges from relationship problems (42 percent), acute crisis (29 percent), problematic drug and alcohol use (28 percent), and poor health (22 percent), to job loss and money trouble (16 percent), legal issues (9 percent) and loss of housing (4 percent), among others.

    "It's never just one thing," says Michael Staley, suicide prevention research coordinator in Utah's State Medical Examiner's Office. "Anybody who reduces suicide or an explanation for our rate of suicide in any population to one or two things is sadly mistaken. I think that mentality is an impediment to us moving forward."

  • PP Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 17, 2018 5:21 p.m.

    To Impartial 7

    I had never before heard about the CES letter. Thanks for bringing it up because now I have. You claim it's on the "Church web site", but I can't find it anywhere. I can find answers to a lot of the "questions" in the CES letter, but no copy of the letter it's self. Maybe you could provide some search words that I can use on LDS.org so that I can find the letter, but from my own research today it appears that your claims are erroneous.

    As for the CES letter it's self, it is nothing but an amalgamation of decades old, and almost entirely debunked anti-mormon rants. I have heard them all from various sources over the years. It is unlikely that the letter is an actual letter written to a CES director, but more likely a fabricated "letter" circulated to "question" the Church. But even if it was a letter written by a singular person to a CES director the fabrication label still stands. It's not an honest questioning attempt like Martin Luther's 95 questions, it's an ad hominem attack designed to frustrate rather than enlighten.

  • JD Las Vegas, NV
    June 17, 2018 5:08 p.m.

    After reading the comments, it's amazing that the majority still believe that there is a "choice" made for those individuals who are gay. The amazing folks in the gay community did not sit back, weigh consequences, make a positive/negative list and come to some type of decision to be gay. Let's hear from the folks in the straight community, when did you make the decision to be straight? How did that process go for you? I'd bet my life that most folks in the straight community didn't even blink when first being attracted to someone. Being gay is not a choice someone makes, it is who they are. If Mormons could just get this simple point, it would make huge strides with the gay community. Utah has led the nation in male teenage suicides since the early 70's, with many deaths coming from teens struggling with their sexual orientation and acceptance at home. The church believes it is being open and accepting in this day and age, the truth is that while their stance is being said in a nicer way, the bottom line is that acceptance is not tolerated. I do believe the stance of the Mormon religion in regards to accepting the LGBTQ community contributes to the high suicide rate in Utah.

  • Sanefan Wellsville, UT
    June 17, 2018 4:22 p.m.

    There is no correlation between youth suicides and religion, guns, living an alternative lifestyle and so on. They've been around long before there was a teen suicide epidemic. There is a HUGE correlation with the advent of social media and teen suicides. Let's put the blame where it belongs and then deal with it to prevent this horrible epidemic.

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    June 17, 2018 4:19 p.m.

    Laura: It is still a choice. This life is about choices and taking responsibility for those choices, even if that choice is suicide. Shifting blame to someone else never will help or solve the problem, nor will validated a choice that you know carries with it the stain of fighting against God. God will judge and evaluate that person's life according to the light and knowledge he/she knew, but that doesn't negate our responsibility to teach the truth.
    Relative values, abetted by a misinformed and confused media, must shoulder much of the blame, if blame is to be applied, than scripture, the church, or even failing Christian examples. Marriage is between a man and a women. If one is struggling to know that simple truth, then be chaste. Anything incompatible to God's word is playing with fire.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2018 3:53 p.m.

    Most of us see ourselves as basically good, kind people, and that makes it hard for us to recognize our own complicity in the suffering of others. Whether it's religion, race, status or national loyalty, when we're the "insiders," we tend to minimize the suffering of those on the outside.

    If we're happy with our religion, we may overlook how our religious beliefs marginalize and hurt those unlike us. If we're white, we may downplay the effects of everyday racial prejudice. If we're financially secure, we may imagine that poverty occurs mainly because those "others" don't work as hard as we do. If we're American, we may overlook certain civilian casualties in our unending wars as excusable accidents or mistakes, while we harshly criticize the same behavior in our opponents.

    One of the most ethical things we can do is to develop empathy and really listen to what others tell us, even when--or especially when--their experiences are not the same as ours.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    June 17, 2018 3:28 p.m.

    The truth will make you free only when you are able to accept it and work with it.

    The DN states : "... suggesting religion (or any one religious organization) is a primary cause of suicide deaths among youths is neither accurate nor helpful. This is especially true when research suggests that religion may be a protective factor relating to suicide for many individuals.... "

    I think heterosexual members of the LDS Church would show a lower index of suicide than the general population. However, all the LDS youth that were also LGBT (without exception) felt they had to leave the church in order to find peace.

    As a believer in God and trying to live according to the Gospel. I remember when as a very active LDS Teenager , I would fall asleep praying to Heavenly Father to take me to him or cure me of this disease i.e. homosexuality. I promised to go on a mission and be the very best missionary I could if he cured me. I was a very successful missionary in number of baptisms and the quality of leaders I helped to bring to the church. Years after my mission I understood that God loves me as I'm.

    I am still a homosexual and God is still part of my life, however, the LDS church is not.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    June 17, 2018 1:39 p.m.

    To the authors and DN:

    Thanks for this op-ed!

    It's so nice to have a calm statement of what research shows versus swirling hysteria. It's so much easier to see things that can be done.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    June 17, 2018 11:34 a.m.

    Active church participation can, indeed, put a teenager in a situation where they find support and acceptance--and, indeed, lower the odds of suicide--when the teenager is straight.

    And if the teen is gay, and the members of the church accept the teen as s/he is, and accepts and encourages them to be who they are, that should also lower the odds of suicide.

    But if the teen is gay, and the adults in their church make it clear that this is both undesirable and unacceptable, that keeping his orientation secret is the only way to go, and that lifelong celibacy is the only option for them, then, yes, church membership would be correlated with increased suicide risk. This is true whether the church is LDS or Evangelical Christian or Jehovah's Witnesses.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2018 6:51 a.m.

    Religion inevitably provides people with guideposts for life -- and many times, in my experience, those guideposts can be literally life-saving. But the hardest of hard times comes to those who feel they're fully living the precepts of their religion but still feeling miserable, because of anxiety, depression, or other difficulties in their personal life. What I think such people need to know is that it is not religion that has failed them, it's their own bodies and, often enough, their own minds. A good therapist can help them to heal themselves, either with talking therapy, with effective meds, or both. One fear we all face is that, if these methods are truly effective, they also thrust new responsibilities upon us to practice the right kind of caring -- for others and for ourselves. That's the quest of a lifetime, but it's worth it.

    And Happy Father's day!

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    June 16, 2018 6:42 p.m.

    TxTeacher: "Regardless, the Mormon Church are main contributers to the isolation and pain experienced by LGBTQ individuals."

    Wow, nothing could be further from the truth. God can't help it if people move away from His standards, commandments, and values. If you don't agree with those, then that is what you need to disagree with, but not the 'Mormon Church'. The Mormon church, and I believe biblical scripture, tells us that gender is not something you can change and that marriage is between a man and a women. If that is a core doctrine, how can you blame the bible or a church for expressing that view? If in doing so, some members alienate themselves, who is to blame? The fact that members, whether LGBQ, or someone that treats his neighbor ill, struggle with living those truths is no reason to blame those struggles on the church of the bible. Tell me how that makes sense, even from a therapist's point of view? I would call that intolerant in the most contemptuous and critical manner! LGBQ can begin by not thinking that their struggles are somehow unique. Go tell that to the quadriplegic?

  • DocOscar Herriman, UT
    June 16, 2018 6:07 p.m.

    As the article clearly states, and studies have confirmed, what puts teens at risk for suicide is being gay, not being Mormon. Ellen's concern is plainly misdirected.

  • EmmieC Helper, UT
    June 16, 2018 5:31 p.m.

    I think the big picture has been lost in the religion. Studies and statistics are only useful to a degree. The numbers can so easily be skewed in favor of whomever designed the study. Everyone has a story that will show Mormonism in a positive or a negative light, depending on your own personal experiences. The issue here is not religious at all. The issue is mental health. Faith and obedience to a religious ideal does not prevent mental illness any more than a belief that you can pray away diabetes or high blood pressure. And living a "devient" lifestyle doesn't increase your risks of developing a mental illness. Stigmatizing mental illness is the real problem. Apathy and ignorance are the biggest enemies. Not looking beyond the surface of the people around you, not taking 2 minutes of your day to really SEE the people in your life and not be satisfied with the facade. Those that hide behind religion as an excuse to belittle, and condemn those that don't adhere to their beliefs are so far from Christlike it is sickening.

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    June 16, 2018 11:08 a.m.

    Ellen showed her true colors very quickly with this ignorant statement. She basically blamed the Mormon religion for all the teen suicides in the state and particularly the LGBQ suicide rate. Isn't part of becoming an adult taking responsibility of your choices? If you choose to be LGBQ, then accept it and move forward. Why listen to Ellen, the Mormon church, or anyone in between. Make your own life without being attached to Hollywood, a religion, your friends, or your community. Find your path! Perhaps being LGBQ is incompatible with who you really are! The scriptures teach us to not halt between two opinions. Either accept who you are, as you are, and be happy, or make another choice. One thing that isn't productive at all is blaming someone for your choice! Ellen needs to grow up!

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    June 16, 2018 9:42 a.m.

    I learned some very important lessons about diversity while living in Utah which have been a great benefit when I have lived elsewhere.

    One important lesson is that it is so easy to be outside of a culture looking in and to misinterpret everything that is different as what is wrong with them.

    I take statistics about Utah (and Mormons) with a grain of salt. I remember the UofU student newspaper talking about the unbelievably high teen pregnancy rate in Utah. I looked into the statistics. They weren't really there but the closest I could come was the out of wedlock births in Utah were 1/4th the national average.

    Another case was the numbers about Mormons viewing online pornography. There was a study which showed that there was a lot of online pornography in Utah. But people looked at the study and it is not clear where the data came from. But they could show that online pornography viewing is 10% lower in states with large Mormon populations.

    What I think happens is that people have prejudices and if they find evidence that confirms their prejudices, they jump on it without questioning if it is accurate.

    Ellen stumbled over her stereotypes.

  • Impartial8 Sandy, UT
    June 16, 2018 6:21 a.m.

    Suicides are up across the country and not just among LGBT, so who gets the blame there? A number of experts place the blame on social media because of the bullying or the way it creates these unrealistic expectations that cause teenagers to feel inadequate. Social media also creates isolation. As people become more social online, they are often less social in real life. Have they ever determined why the seven students at Herriman took their lives. Was a single one of them because of being gay?
    The church has often been unfairly blamed for the rate of people with mental health issues in the state or the number of people on antidepressants, but the rate was only slightly above other states like Colorado and Oregon. It's not like it was leaps and bounds above. The church may have some effect, but often times mental health problems are natural, like bipolar disorder or OCD. Plus, maybe people in Utah are more likely to seek professional help instead of self-medicate so the reported numbers are higher. Maybe postpartum depression is a factor. I've even heard that higher elevation can increase depression. The 8 intermountain states have been referred to as the suicide belt.

  • essay Redwood Valley, CA
    June 15, 2018 10:57 p.m.

    Another Hollywood celebrity SJW making overgeneralizations without the facts or evidence to back them up.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, UT
    June 15, 2018 7:07 p.m.


    You are spot on! I think this article is full of lots of well meaning people who care, but the data just isn't very accurate, so it makes Dan & Ellen look harsh (to those who are LDS) and puts the tone of the article to sound very defensive (but without any real hard data on either side).

    I 100% agree with your comments and I'm sorry for your struggle. It is heartfelt.

    I am a mother of 4 teenagers and I can tell you, the struggles of mental health are real. There are MULTIPLE factors that contribute to feelings of inadequacy, which take our teens down the darkest path to suicide. These factors include: various chemical imbalances & mental health issues (bipolar, depression, anxiety), poor diet, exercise & altitude (as mentioned above), social or academic issues where they don't fit in & kids not having coping mechanisms, with the biggest culprit being the negative effects of social media. Add to this a teen who is worried about the implications of being an LDS LGBTQ in Utah! Any one of these things are complex, and when off, could send someone into a downward spiral of despair. More research is needed before blame is placed; until then-LOVE!

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 6:05 p.m.

    This is a very strange world when some consider strengthening family values is encouraging suicidal impulses; or criticizing that there is nothing more beautiful than love between a married couple for the same reason. Note that the phrase 'nothing more than" does not preclude other things being " as beautiful as..". Do some people envy others so exceedingly much ? We are in the midst of a conflict of values that has become vitriolic. Those of faith who accept scriptural teachings including the concept of hating sin, but, loving the sinner are being the ones who are not tolerated.

  • LDSRealityCheck247 Herriman, UT
    June 15, 2018 5:54 p.m.

    Help me understand why this article has presented arguments that were neither made by Dan Reynolds or Ellen. Did Dan or Ellen say that the LDS Church was causing suicide among ALL Utahns, including straight people? No, they did not. So why is this strawman argument presented? The writer owes the audience a fair argument, and having watched the interview myself, this is a dishonest thing to say. I've watched it again just in case and we deserve better.

  • klintonicals Twentynine Palms, CA
    June 15, 2018 5:54 p.m.

    The LDS Church is a very positive organization that significantly supports and helps those at risk of suicide, even those who are LGBTQ. But Talk is cheap, action is the solution.

    Data clearly shows that connectedness, in real interpersonal relationship terms, helps to prevent suicide completion. Suicide ideation (SI) is not uncommon in the human condition. People have difficulties... no matter if they practice religion or not. If those with SI are not cared for or feel that they have few they can turn to for help... it can lead to further isolation and higher risk of suicide completion. The opposite also appears true, that those with SI who obtain assistance from others most often pull through and can live purposeful lives.

    The solutions are multi-facited, but also simple. Most who have SI get help - from someone who shows love to them. It's best to focus on what you can do, what I can do. Shaming an individual can have a negative impact, but love can overcome the shame and difficulties of live. Shame is not caused by doctrine, shame is an individual feeling that must be overcome. Lust is not a sufficient replacement for love...or shame. Only pure love is the solution.

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    June 15, 2018 4:23 p.m.

    I would like to see the suicide statistics over the past 20 years for non LDS youth both active in a church and those not attending a church in Utah. I would like to see the same suicide statistics for inactive vs active LDS youth in Utah. Then I would like to see the same data in other states. I guess someone is hiding the information. Hard to make a decision on the impact of religion without the segregated data. As far as Ellen’s comments, I am confident she is just repeating misinformation consumed and repeated in the “Hollywood” LGBTQ...lmnop community.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    June 15, 2018 2:03 p.m.

    @TXTeacher--the LDS Church has made a number of resources available for LGBTQ individuals, as well as friends and family members who seek greater understanding, at the website Mormon And Gay dot org (the Deseret News doesn't let us post direct links). We have found it not only helpful in better relating to our gay friends and family members, but also inspiring, as we work through our own challenges in life. Highly recommended for all!

  • Bovina Canada, 00
    June 15, 2018 1:50 p.m.

    I am approaching my 46th birthday and have spent my whole life as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Never do I ever remember unkind things being said from the pulpit or in any meetings or classes that I have attended about those who are LGBTQ or their community, and I have lived in wards in Louisiana, Utah, Idaho and New Brunswick, Canada as well as visited wards in many other places. That being said, of course I was taught that practicing that lifestyle goes against the teachings of our Father in Heaven. I was never taught or encouraged to treat people who were different from me poorly or to exclude them. I consider myself, unfortunately, to be a very judgemental person, but that is something I have been working on for years. And even with that major character flaw I manage to be able to get along with a lot of people whose beliefs differ from mine. Blaming the LDS Church for teaching their doctrine being the cause of teen suicide is ridiculous. Is it a factor in some cases? No doubt, but we can’t just change the Bible and other scriptures to suit everyone’s agenda. Kindness and support regardless of personal belief is key. Unconditional love is crucial

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    June 15, 2018 1:37 p.m.

    @TXTeacher What do you mean by "transparently inclusive"? Perhaps we could learn from that.

  • NewsFlash Kearns, UT
    June 15, 2018 1:33 p.m.

    Let me start by saying "If any of the posters that have not gone down that dark road of suicide, you have no clue in heck, what it is like to feel suicidal, nor the what factors brought the person to that point".

    I have gone down that road for several years.

    Here are some observations about "Why" teen suicide is high in Utah.
    1. Poor parenting - We are not teaching our youth to be resilient. That life is not fair, people are not always nice, and that sometimes stuff happens. We fail to teach them to look for ways to overcome those issues and feelings.

    2. Poor Self Esteem - People today like to compare themselves to others surrounding them. The people their weaknesses against others positives, not realizing the other person weaknesses. Add to that, people can be cruel (especially other kids) and can destroy someone self esteem by their constant negative comments.

    3. Kids today have been given everything. They do not have to "Earn" things. It is given to them. What they fail to understand is success is based on one's own work and passions.

    I know I am generalizing, but think about how we "Train up your child?". Maybe that has something to do it.

  • TXTeacher SANDY, UT
    June 15, 2018 12:16 p.m.

    Although I'm not LDS, I have a great deal of respect for their wholesome lifestyle and community service. Regardless, the Mormon Church are main contributers to the isolation and pain experienced by LGBTQ individuals. That is a huge problem not adequately and honestly addressed in this OpEd. The author also fails to mention that there is a documented history in the LDS church to "re-program LGBTQ youth." Is it any wonder that our state suicide rate is so high among youth? Yes, there are other causes, others also to blame, but none as much as the LDS Church's treatment of this vulnerable population of youth. Also, those who leave the Mormon Church, for whatever reason, are too often made to feel wrong, inferior, unwelcome, ostracized, even by their families. My Episcopal Church is transparently inclusive, and we have quite a few former Mormons join our congregation. Their suffering is real. The LDS Church must do far more than vaguely show more "kindness." What specific steps, policies, and action will be taken? Please step up, Mormon leadership, and take responsibility.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    June 15, 2018 11:54 a.m.

    Screenname noted (re the effects of Accutane use on suicidal thoughts):
    "Interesting, and I haven't heard that before. Anecdotally, the only time in my life I've had suicidal thoughts was while I was on Accutane, in high school."

    My point exactly. Isotretinoin (Accutane) continues to be prescribed for teens with acne problems, and many parents and their teens have not been alerted by prescribing MDs of this possible side effect. In the case of my friends, they were quite angry to learn after their son's attempted suicide of the possible Accutane impact. Stopping the Accutane stopped the thoughts. Then they learned of two other of their son's friends who had experienced suicidal thoughts and had attempted suicide while on Accutane.

    What alarms me is that the news media has largely bought into the line put forward by the drug companies and their shills that it's the severe acne causing the depression and resultant suicide, not the Accutane. As I noted, our friend's son had not experienced suicidal thoughts prior to Accutane!

    Word to the wise!

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    June 15, 2018 10:38 a.m.

    @OHBU stated at 9:02am essentially what I wanted to point out. The difference between our perspectives is that I am LDS and have no reason to feel left out but I have seen how even active members can become ostracized. This doesn't mean the LDS church is wrong or bad, just that members need to be aware of the effects of their choices and many need to re-calibrate their priorities to be proactively inclusive of others rather than blithely creating an insular lifestyle whether that lifestyle is self-centered, family-centered, or church-centered. (@EmmieC has clearly lived through what I have observed.)

    @a bit of reality also has it right. When imperfect people espouse, interpret, and attempt to live as they are taught, even perfect teachings can be warped to drive tragic actions. Attacking the teachings doesn't solve that problem. The solution is to find ways to connect with individuals in positive ways.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    June 15, 2018 10:24 a.m.

    If you really want to find answers. Ask Mormon God again about families, love, and human sexuality. You got it wrong the last time. Very wrong. Just like with the Priesthood ban onBlacks.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    June 15, 2018 10:13 a.m.

    I remember sitting near a Mormon bishop attending an LGBTq Mormon "testimony meeting" at the request of a gay member of his ward. Many speakers recounted suicide attempts or the suicide of someone they were close to. With tears streaming down his face he said: "I had no idea of the pain we've caused". Good people can change. But, when you're rejected by good people life seems meaningless.

  • dordrecht Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 10:11 a.m.

    Excellent article, Deseret News, thank you! People's attitude can make a difference. Once I read that a man was planning to kill himself, but ran into someone who was kind and started a conversation with him. He changed his mind and lived.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 15, 2018 9:44 a.m.

    @DesolationIsComing - Logan, UT
    June 14, 2018 6:17 p.m.
    The CES letter is a lie. Don't base your opinion on it."

    Then, perhaps you can explain why it is on the church's official website? They don't put it front and center, but it's there. That is a fact, not a belief.

  • Rita B Herriman, UT
    June 15, 2018 9:40 a.m.

    A lot of the arguments here against what Ellen said sound to me like "All is well in Zion." But all is not well for our gay children, our gay brothers and sisters. They don't have the possibility of marriage in this life, and that can be incredibly depressing. I would invite everyone who doubts that there is a problem to get to know someone who is a gay, devout Mormon. And listen to what they have to say. Listen to their hopes, their fears, their faith. We all have a lot to learn from them.

  • cellstr Provo, UT
    June 15, 2018 9:38 a.m.

    First, WHY religion provides a buffer to suicide matters: it provides community, it provides inclusion, it provides communion and purpose.

    Take a religion that then excludes people. (“We Mormons don’t exclude people!” Separate discussion, but MANY LGBTQ people in Mormonism FEEL excluded - this is well documented). That exclusion ruptures ties with the protective elements of the mortal community AND it often makes people feel hated by deity. Perceptions of exclusion (often with grounds) eliminate protective factors of suicide but also throw the person onto the risk side. This was left out of the op-ed, but it’s THE part that matters.

    Second, why Utah doesn’t have stats on lgbtq suicides.

    Utah suicide crisis centers have repeatedly asked Utah for more funding to assist LGBTQ folks. Utah’s response was: show us the data.

    The CDC has pushed Utah to include sexual orientation on surveys that gauged suicidal risk. Utah legis., backed by the LDS church, rejected this and prohibits state-wide surveys that include questions of sexual orientation or gender identity. Utah, then, both refuses funds for lgbtq youth because of lack of data, and then reject collecting that data.

  • EmmieC Helper, UT
    June 15, 2018 9:23 a.m.

    As a lifelong member of the LDS church and a suicide attempt survivor. I can with all honesty say that the teachings of the LDS church, were in no way responsible for the anguish and dark depression that I experienced. However the people of the LDS church, played a great part in cultivating the seeds of worthlessness that I ultimately succumbed to. Not all of the people, mind you, just those that take the mantle of the church upon themselves, but completely forgo the actual teaching of Christ. Those that judge and criticize, instead of love and accept. Those that condemn one for free thought, rather than attempt to understand a differing point of view. I know that I am a child of God. I know that he loves me, I know that Jesus died for my sins... The darkest days of my life were the days that I was "fully embraced" by the LDS church. I still pray, I still worship, I follow the word of wisdom and the law of chastity, and I still consider myself a good and true member of the church. I agree that strong religious conviction can help those facing thoughts of suicide, but persecution by the religion that is supposed to be saving your soul is an equally powerful force.

  • kclady53 Baton Rouge, LA
    June 15, 2018 9:10 a.m.

    Many, many year ago when I lived in Baton Rouge, I heard an interview with Ellen where she talked about how she lived in New Orleans under deplorable conditions trying to scratch out a living. She told of how her roommate (girlfriend) was killed in a car accident and that it was her darkest time. I remember her saying she even considered ending her life. I have since looked up what she says about that experience now (years later) and find a very candy-coated version of the story. Now she even says that it was her greatest break - where she wrote her best stand-up comedy. It seems to me, that that original story would have been more beneficial to the teens out there that are considering suicide. A sort of “I walked that path, overcame it, and here you see who I am today.” So, here’s a question. Why did she take the opportunity to bash the Mormon Church instead of actually saying something to those contemplating suicide that might give them hope?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    June 15, 2018 9:02 a.m.

    Perhaps a better study to understand the effects of growing up LDS in Utah would be to compare rates of depression in suicide among those raised LDS (regardless of activity at the moment) versus other faith groups or non-religious groups.

    I do agree with this statement, though I wish it was more of the focus of the article: "we acknowledge that a higher rate of suicidal ideation for non-LDS youths in Utah may speak to a need for better integration of non-LDS youths within schools and local communities."

    This is true--Utah can feel exclusionary to those who aren't LDS. It's not even necessarily intentional. It's the little things like teenagers who aren't able to hang out because they seem to have a church thing several nights a week--the one member of the group who's not LDS must either convert or be left out on a regular basis. It's the ward that decides to do a trunk-or-treat on Halloween rather than go door-to-door. The non-LDS kids get all dressed up and start going door-to-door only to find no answer (this happened to us). Only later, talking with neighbors, did we find out where they all were.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    June 15, 2018 8:57 a.m.

    Some of the defenses presented in this article, I would argue, could be taken as a furtherance of what was stated on the show. The shame culture is what was cited on the show as having a negative influence. The article states that those active in the church are less likely to commit suicide. But then it acknowledges that "former" members have a higher rate. Odds are, a person who is feeling shamed by LDS culture will stop going to church for a while before the actual suicide attempt.

    An example I've heard in my own life: a young lady who was an active member of the LDS faith was raped at college. She felt that she hadn't adequately defended her "purity." It was something ingrained in her since childhood that marriage and happiness depended on her virginity at marriage. She felt so wasted she stopped attending church (or going to much of anything) which led her to suicidal thoughts. Elizabeth Smart has spoken to similar feelings. In the study, this young lady would not register as a member, but as a former member. I've heard a similar trajectory for LGBT youth.

    In such instances the research presented in the article would support, not refute, Ellen's point.

  • screenname Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 8:23 a.m.

    Thanks for that very scientific analysis, Stenar. A couple footnotes:

    1. The strong correlation between altitude and suicide is not debatable, as the data is clear. The question is whether there is more than just a correlation.

    2. In the last decade, acceptance, even within Utah, of gays has increased. Obviously, there are a multitude of factors here, so one changing variable does nothing to disprove causation of other variables.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 15, 2018 8:15 a.m.

    @DesolationIsComing - Logan, UT
    June 14, 2018 6:17 p.m.
    The CES letter is a lie. Don't base your opinion on it.

    I know that you wish it was a lie. You may even believe that it's a lie. But, you're wrong. Many lds people don't want to believe it. However, it's on the church's website. They don't feature it front and center, you have to search for it, but it's there. So, either the letter is true or the church is offering a lie on its website. Which is it?

  • Egyptian origins Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 8:10 a.m.

    No one seems to be listening to me or caring to listen, but I'll try once more.
    Beliefs have consequences. When you believe incorrectly you produce bad, poor, evil, negative, hateful, etc consequences. Faith is not "knowing"; faith is believing; when one claims their faith is knowledge it's called dogmatism. Dogmatism is one of many fallacious thinking errors. "Studies" are not hard science studies which means they're fallacious. Psychology is a pseudo-science which means they use fallacious studies over hard science measurements. When you add all the fallacious beliefs spread through our society like a plague there are the horrifying consequences. Children & youth are most vulnerable to fallacies with bullying, body shaming, & yes Religious demonizing. The LDS's For Strength of the Youth is a collection of Mosaic Law/Pharisee hedges rather than a promotion of loving God, ourselves & others. The booklet takes youth away from God & the one law to love. It's fallacious to blame an outward object for inward goodness or sin. Truth & righteousness are sound logic principles. Falsehood & evil are unsound logic principles. Teach our kids truth & watch the problems magically disappear.

  • hankel Butte, MT
    June 15, 2018 8:04 a.m.

    I'm waiting for her to offer an apology, but it likely won't come. Just another reason not to watch her show. Never did like it.

  • twinkleberry67 Layton, UT
    June 15, 2018 8:04 a.m.

    I posit that the teen suicide issue is way more complex than most people realize and certainly Ms. DeGeneres is entitled to her thoughts and feelings and that’s fine. It is a myth that everyone in Utah is a Mormon and we have had a large influx of non-Mormons moving here for years. Then there is the reduced effectiveness of antidepressants at higher altitudes as mentioned in other comments. Another facet of this I am concerned about is the marked tendency for young people to conduct their social lives exclusively via social media. While it can be an easy and convenient way to keep family and friends informed on our lives, there is no way it can totally replace direct human interaction such as a face to face conversation. I also find it tragic that touch has been so demonized that it is now PC never to touch another person. I further posit that our young people would be better served by being taught and made to develop social skills instead of social media skills. As human beings we at our very constitution are social creatures and no smart phone is going to change that. Suicide ideation and attempts are cries for helpthat I hope we can get better at discerning.

  • OldSalt94 West Jordan, UT
    June 15, 2018 8:01 a.m.

    If you haven’t attempted or succeeded at suicide then all you have is the research from those who have. And sometimes asking “ why” from those is the only way to get finite answers. One group can’t answer and the other group sometimes just won’t say. Love your neighbors in a good way. Not a nosy way.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    June 15, 2018 7:38 a.m.

    Lost in all this blame game is the lives lost.

    The issue of GLBT youth suicide is not studied well, as this article specifies. In fact, conservative leaders for years have rejected efforts to publicly fund comprehensive studies in Washington DC and many state capitols.

    Only recently has the country begrudgingly accepted GLBT dignity and equality. Utah and the dominant religious organization have changed their tone on this issue to their credit. And statistics do only study the past, no definitively predict the future.

    However, even the most stalwart defenders of fundamentalist religion must acknowledge that kids who realize they are GLBT in fundamentalist religion cultures are more apt to feel isolated by their community and family. And feelings of isolation mixed with depression are a cocktail to suicide.

    So, the ball is still in the court of those who preach hate in the pulpit on the Sabbath over this issues that surround their gay and lesbian children and grandchildren.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    June 15, 2018 7:34 a.m.


    Your assumptions are not based in research or truth.
    Research shows just the opposite of your false assertions.

    The LGBT community has been blaming Religion for their plight, for generations.

    Remember "Act Up" from 30 years ago?

    When LGBT groups, stormed St. Patrick's Cathedral in N.Y.C. and desecrated their Sacred Spaces & Holy Communion?

    Then, it was the Catholics fault.
    Now it's the Mormons turn.

    If you're Gay, fine, then own it.

    But for crying out loud, stop attacking Religions, who may have an opposing point of view.
    Accept personal responsibility.

    Deal with the fact that every living human being is not going to enthusiastically embrace your lifestyle, not now, not ever.

    "Not that there is anything wrong with it"!
    Jerry Seinfield

    Tolerance is a two way street.

    Arguing your cause with myths and fallacy is never an effective strategy.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 7:15 a.m.

    Aren't we avoiding the giant gorilla in the room ? Our whole popular social culture. Some years ago, it was said that among teens, peers were the most influential factor in their lives. And they all feed off pop culture : ( some of this stuff is extremely degrading ) pop music ( including rap ), movies, TV, magazines, and the personalities who star in them. With social media, this is only intensified.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    June 15, 2018 7:13 a.m.

    There is nothing more absurd than those who perpetrate myths to further their own agendas.
    Dan Reynolds is a one note samba.

    At least he should be truthful when discussing this issue.

    His divisive and feigned outrage is growing old.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 6:49 a.m.

    If you want your editorial to be taken seriously, don't include "studies" by the Family Foundation!
    (just take a look at their website!)

  • Ranch Here, UT
    June 15, 2018 6:41 a.m.

    When I was younger, I came very close to suicide; and I can assure you, it was because of the guilt instilled in me BY the LDS church. The church may not be fully responsible, but they most absolutely *are* a factor in the decision to commit suicide. When you are rejected by the organization you grew up in, and loved deeply, it creates a world of hurt.


    Your son is very lucky to have you.


    I grew up in an era when the church preached you'd be better off dead than gay; when BKP preached that "someone had to do it" (i.e., assault a gay companion). And your church's efforts to keep LGBT citizens from enjoying the legal rights others enjoy is absolutely NOT "respect" nor love. 1-2 years does not make up for a lifetime of anti-sentiment.


    I'd bet you haven't even read it (and it is not a "lie").

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    June 15, 2018 6:24 a.m.

    Ostriches are lovely birds. When their heads are in the sand, they see a world they have chosen to see. Others may observe them and wonder if they are hiding from something.

    The article places Utah in the top one-fifth of States for teen suicides. Should not there be a red flag? A State that is about two-thirds members of a major church would logically seem to have a substantially lower than average suicide rate for all ages.

    A bit of thought might bring the idea that most kids raised in homogeneous communities with high standards and strict behavioral expectations gain advantage from that. However, if you are the kid whose peg is square, you may not fit in so well. In more mixed communities, there would be more kids for the square pegs to associate with.

    More thought says that if the problem exists in Utah and has been well known for some time, that not all the possible solutions have been tried, possibly because they are seen as challenging the church to make changes it does not feel God wants.

    God wants kids to be happy, fulfilled, and LIVING. I would say that trusting Him to provide the solutions, even if difficult, is the Christian way.

    Better than blaming Ellen!

  • Rita B Herriman, UT
    June 15, 2018 6:22 a.m.

    I think that many members of the Church don't understand how their words are affecting gay people. Most wards have probably at least one or two kids who are gay and scared to talk to anyone about it. And yet the unkind, unthoughtful words about gay people continue regularly in so many Church settings.

  • kim c DFW, TX
    June 15, 2018 5:36 a.m.

    I saw this interview Ellen did with Dan Reynolds and instantly felt it was very one-sided and didn’t acknowledge anything the Church has said/done to promote love towards the LGBT community. I was also saddened by the Faith crisis Dan is going through, not because he’s going through it like many of us do at some point, but because he is doing it publicly. Just a few admittedly non-researched thoughts I had: often when someone is struggling with depression, one recommendation is exercise as well as nutrition. I know I didn’t eat the healthiest or exercise much when I was a teen and it appears that teens now even exercise less and sit in front of screens more. I am not saying exercise and diet would solve the problem, but it would be interesting to see what effect it might have. Medication seems to be a tricky thing as sometimes medication can be helpful and sometimes it can increase suicidal thoughts. Love is important. Ellen believes love only exists if everything is accepted. She said any organization that doesn’t accept everything is not tolerant. It’s all or nothing. I can’t agree with her because God is not all or nothing. He loves all of us, but gives us commandments.

  • Stenar Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 4:59 a.m.

    High altitude is not the cause of the suicides. First of all, that was a hypothesis, not proven. Second, the suicide rate has gone up dramatically in the past decade. The elevation hasn't increased.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 12:20 a.m.

    "And, guns are not the issue. If someone is desperate there are plenty of ways to kill yourself. Ease of securing a firearm is not the biggest predictor of teen suicide."

    The problem with guns on this issue is that suicide attempts are much more likely to result in death when a gun is used than other methods.

  • bassoonlady OREM, UT
    June 15, 2018 12:10 a.m.

    Guns may not be the cause of suicide, but it is common sense that if you or a loved one suffer from those thoughts that part of keeping yourself here is keeping the tools of destruction out of reach. Having a safety plan includes this and having a source to go to for help, Most who attempt suicide do so not because they want to die, but because their suffering is more intense than they can handle and they don't know how to find release in any other way. The cause of the pain and the cure for it is different for everyone. When you are in that much pain, you aren't thinking right, and teenagers have less impulse control than adults.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2018 12:03 a.m.

    Why can't it be both? Religion helps in some situations and hurts in others. Some LGBT youth in churches that aren't supportive of same-sex couples are going to have added challenges around the issue caused by religion.

  • Hugaluga Bountiful, UT
    June 14, 2018 11:46 p.m.

    I do appreciate data-driven opinions and I prioritize them over anecdotal evidence... but I don't think anecdotal evidence should be completely dismissed. When you collect enough anecdotes it becomes an investigation of it's own.

    I'd invite you to read about the experiences LGBTQ identifying members of the LDS community. In many of the most open, honest memoirs you will find accounts of dangerous self-loathing. Many describe a time in their life when they considered suicide to deal with the insurmountable problems they face; trying to fit a square a peg into a round hole.

    If that's not enough, trying reading some exmormon perspectives: they're probably the most open about how hard it was trying to align the ideals of the church and their own sexual identity. They openly discuss suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and how they were ultimately unable to reconcile their identities as church members and their sexual identities.

    My problem with this article, is that it relies on vague statistics and conclusions to ignore a problem that is being actively documented by those in distress. Articles like this might use stats to help you sleep at night, but they aren't helping LGBTQ teens.

  • Hugaluga Bountiful, UT
    June 14, 2018 11:43 p.m.

    I rarely read op-eds and I never post on them.

    This Op-Ed seems even-handed at first glance: It seems well-researched / data-driven and in many ways it is, but I'm concered about the conclusions drawn from the data. They seem like natural conclusions from our LDS perspective, but I'm not convinced that the data is actually telling the story we're being told.

    For example, the article uses a lower suicide rate among actively religious youth as evidence of religion preventing suicide, but I think that is a hasty conclusion. Couldn't one argue that those who feel ostracized might be less likely to be active? Further, in-depth, analysis would be required to reach a firm conclusion. I applaud the author for admitting that adequate data in this department is lacking for both sides of the argument.

    The funny thing about data is that it can say almost anything you want if you look through the right lens. That is probably the most important thing I learned in my statistics classes. And let's not dive into all the other problems with research...

    *Continued on next comment*

  • Idahooutdoors Idaho Falls, ID
    June 14, 2018 11:05 p.m.

    In southeast Idaho (high Mormon concentration) I have watched the obituaries of youth who apparently took their life the last few years. For the concentration of LDS youth it would appear the Mormon youth do NOT have a higher rate (admittedly unscientifically).
    Of those Mormon youth who struggle with same sex attraction, it could only be speculation (especially by those who want it to be) that they commit suicide because of shame put on them by others. It very well could be that they have followed the social pressure of giving in to any attraction before they are old enough to make such a life-changing decision, and have found for them, the life-style brought sadness.
    Either way we need to gather around all youth and be there for them!

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 14, 2018 10:11 p.m.

    "Responding to" seems to be a lot about rebuffing, refuting, and redefining.

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    June 14, 2018 10:11 p.m.

    The Mormon church definitely does not 'shame' youth. The opposite is true, as it helps to instill feelings of diving worth, noble characteristics, and abiding profound self confidence.
    Suicide rates decrease with attendance and participation, and even just membership. So the point is flawed.

  • threedegreecougar Kaysville, UT
    June 14, 2018 9:36 p.m.

    I don't know the root causes of teen suicide in Utah, but the faulty logic of the writers of this statement is stunning:
    "Research in Utah suggests something quite different. For instance, the 2015 Utah Prevention Needs Assessment (a survey of over 27,000 Utah youths) found that teens who attended religious services more often (a few times a month to once a week) were less likely to have suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts than those who attended less frequently. Further, teens identifying as Mormon were less likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts."
    Of course teens who feel integrated into the LDS culture and identify with it would not be the ones with the issues and would not report suicidal tendencies. It's the teens who have to deal with the stigma and shame placed on them because they don't integrate and identify with the dominant religious culture that might have the problems. That doesn't absolve the religious culture of any responsibility it might have for creating a culture of shame. The authors' solution seems to be: "Well if you were more like the religious people and ignored your own identity, you wouldn't be suicidal." Strange.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    June 14, 2018 9:21 p.m.

    If a suicidal teen is associated with both the LDS church and the LGBT community, why are we to automatically assume that the LDS church is at fault and the LGBT community is not? Silly, isn't it?

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 14, 2018 8:48 p.m.

    When people use suicide as a club to attack people they are inherently avoiding the real issues and should not be praised at all for it. Suicide rates among teenagers in Colorado have increased more markedly than in Utah. Suicide rates are higher in Arizona than in Utah. Yet people in those states still try to use suicide as a way to attack Utah.

    I am just plain sick and tired of the lies told about suicide. I am sick of it being used as a club to attack my values and try to deny my political rights. Until people like Ms. DeGeneous stop trying to use it as such. I will continue to see their efforts in these regards as nothing less than destructive and counterproductive.

  • Clairenicole Provo, UT
    June 14, 2018 8:44 p.m.

    I think spirituality can reduce suicide but no for minorities that have had so much hateful rhetoric. Directed st them. The church is slowly moving towards a better relationship with the LGBT community but there are still so many talks about protecting the family, which undermines whatever progress they’re trying to make.

  • screenname Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 7:21 p.m.


    Interesting, and I haven't heard that before. Anecdotally, the only time in my life I've had suicidal thoughts was while I was on Accutane, in high school.

    There's also the high correlation between high altitude and suicide rates. We're learning that high altitude not only seems to make depression worse, it also weakens the effects of antidepression medications.

    June 14, 2018 7:16 p.m.

    I was coerced into watching five Ellen episodes and I have to say she spends a few minutes discussing important issues skewed to her point of view which isn't all bad. But, she spends most of her show on sexual innuendo that would be considered totally inappropriate if she were a hetero male. Definitely not a show I would allow any of my children to watch and I complained so much about the wasted time and Ellen's clear lack of logic that I no longer need watch it.

    Just reading the title of this article allowed me to know what Ellen had said, it is a common tactic, not just with Ellen, to to exaggerate and inflame. Upon reading the article, she still uses this, which obviously works with her fans.

  • Autumn Meadow South Jordan, UT
    June 14, 2018 7:14 p.m.

    MaxPower is right. Being told that marriage is the most important, most beautiful thing in this life, and then simultaneously being told that it's not for you because you are gay, has lead many devout members of the Church to suicidal thoughts. One of my dear friends told me that the thought of living another 50, 60, 70 years without any hope of a partner was more than he could bear. I'm sure he's not the only one. How would YOU feel if you were in that situation?

    Also, the members of the Church can so much better at remembering that every congregation likely has multiple members who are gay and in the closet. I have heard the most hateful comments about gay people from the pulpit, in gospel doctrine class, in youth classes. These comments do a lot of damage to our gay brothers and sisters who already have a difficult mission to live in this life.

  • batfink Australia, 00
    June 14, 2018 6:54 p.m.

    "And, guns are not the issue. If someone is desperate there are plenty of ways to kill yourself. Ease of securing a firearm is not the biggest predictor of teen suicide."

    No, you are wrong there.
    These stat's come from the USA, where 14,000 commit suicide annually with guns.
    A few years ago the stat's were: A person with access to a gun is 90% likely to succeed at killing themselves with that gun. Compare that to a person who attempts suicide by overdose who is only 13% likely to succeed.

    Now, more detailed recent research has shown that a person attempting suicide with a gun has a 92% success rate if it's a head shot compared with only a 50% success rate if it's an abdomen shot.
    The success rate for attempted overdose from pills is still 13% because pills take longer to work and the person who swallowed them is more often discovered unconscious within a few days of swallowing the pills. Head shots however tend to instantly destroy vital brain and artery while shotguns just shred everything.

    I like firearms myself (lever action rifles especially) but we can't let the facts be covered up as gun use in a suicide attempt is statistically likely to succeed compared to overdose.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    June 14, 2018 6:25 p.m.

    Some random thoughts as I read this article:
    1) The correlation between suicide rates and the aggressive prescribing of Isotretinoin (Accutane) is seldom discussed. Still controversial, there is enough evidence to support cautious parental vigilance. A friend's son was rescued from an almost successful attempt. After medications failed to alleviate suicidal thoughts, his parents learned of the Accutane connection. They pulled him off that, and all the other meds. He's been fine since (he had experienced no suicidal thoughts prior to taking Accutane).
    2) Among my gay friends is a man who since leaving Utah has lived all over the world. He says of all those places, Utah was the easiest to be gay. I understand everyone's experience is unique, but I always think of that observation when someone asserts that Utah's culture is inherently "anti-gay."
    3) In the LDS Church, "folk doctrines" too often prevail, including that those who take their own lives commit an unrecoverable sin. Boyd K. Packer debunked that one when he stated at my friend's funeral (he had taken his own life): "_____ is now enfolded in the arms of a loving Savior who understands him completely."

  • Twolegsbad Gilbert, AZ
    June 14, 2018 6:18 p.m.

    @Mighty mouse, while I appreciate your comment it is not accurate. It was stated in the article that Utah does not have accurate records on which suicides were teens that identified LGBTQ?. So while your point that teens with a religious upbringing tend to commit suicide less may be true, we don't have statistics to back up that those "religious" teens are LGBTQ?. Until Utah and other highly religious states start to collect more data about the youth committing suicide we won't know to what extent gay and lesbian children are affected. My guess is that in religious communities it will actually be much higher based on a depression statistics amongst highly religious families of gay and lesbian children.

    And, guns are not the issue. If someone is desperate there are plenty of ways to kill yourself. Ease of securing a firearm is not the biggest predictor of teen suicide.

  • DesolationIsComing Logan, UT
    June 14, 2018 6:17 p.m.


    The CES letter is a lie. Don't base your opinion on it.

  • mrmcplad Provo, UT
    June 14, 2018 5:56 p.m.

    This is a very defensive article.

    Would it be so hard to acknowledge the role religious shame plays as *a contributing risk factor*? Please?

    It's true that suicidal ideation almost always has its genesis in a variety of places. We agree. And one of those places is authority figures telling you you aren't worthy.

  • PRob San Tan Valley, AZ
    June 14, 2018 5:40 p.m.

    The writers of this article are dangerously under informed. They correctly cite to studies that show that increased religiosity in teens has a correlation to lower suicidality. But they either failed to examine or failed to acknowledge the relationship is reversed for LGBT teens. In that subset, there has been found to be a higher incidence of suicidaility among those LGBT youth who report greater religiosity. So, yes, religiosity seemingly helps lower the risk of suicidality for youth. Unless they are LGBT youth. For them, the opposite is true. This article’s oversight is dangerous. It is clearly intended to persuade readers to believe that there is not a link between increased LGBT suicidality and religion, but it cites studies that looked at larger teen populations, not the LGBT youth population. And the writers did this even though simple Google searches could have given them the answers.
    “Association of Religiosity With Sexual Minority Suicide Ideation and Attempt,” Megan C. Lytle, PhD, et al,
    American Journal of Preventative Medicine, March 14, 2018

  • Gil Bates Mayfield, UT
    June 14, 2018 5:39 p.m.

    The cause of gender confusion AND suicide is low self-image.

    Despite our culture of participation awards and attaboys for no achievement at all, the kids were not fooled. They figured out that if everyone is a winner, everyone is a loser, too.

    Mom and dad both work. It is easy to get lost in your screen. Nothing satisfies.

    The kid experiments. All that talk of GBLTQ gets them thinking that they must have same-sex attraction.

    Therapy is illegal.

    Ellen is connecting the wrong dots.

  • JBs Logan, UT
    June 14, 2018 5:20 p.m.

    Opinions aren't facts. Ellen is entitled to her opinion, but my views need to be based on facts and actual studies. If there were to be a proven statistical correlation linking religion and suicide, then we would use that to make needed changes. So far I haven't read anything providing that link, and anecdotal evidence doesn't count as true research.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    June 14, 2018 5:20 p.m.

    How about we all double down on teen depression and on its causes.
    How about we double down on the increase in teen depression in our society. Teen depression is far more prevalent than we realize. On average, LDS teens are less inclined to deal with depression via drugs, promiscuous sex, violence, than the world at large.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:57 p.m.


    "but you can't ignore the disproportional increase in suicides that Utah has seen since the LDS church doubled-down against gays with Prop 8 and the November policy."

    I will admit that I have not done enough personal research on the suicide increase in Utah, and its disproportional nature. I need to be better informed - particularly as I have children that are just a few years away from reaching that "youth" category.

    That said, I am a lifelong member of the LDS Church in Utah. I can state without reservation that during my life I have never known a time during which the LGBTQ community has been so well-respected, well-treated, well-spoken of, and during which teaching of love and tolerance for all individuals - particularly the LGBTQ - has been so emphasized as during the last 1-2 years. I think we as members of the Church have realized that doctrinal differences with an individual does not change how Christ views them. The Church has not "doubled-down," but has been consistent in it's doctrine. But the Church has made great strides to help members learn that love for individuals - regardless of lifestyle - is what Christianity is all about.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    June 14, 2018 4:56 p.m.

    Some people fit into the Mormon Church, and being an accepted member of a tight community like that decreases your probability of being depressed and turning to suicide.

    That could be true and in all likelihood is true. However, such statistics say nothing about the people who *don't* fit into the Church. Having cultural and psychological baggage that tells you that you must fit in when your brain and inner self tell you that you can't sounds like a definition of hell. Just because the Church makes some people happy doesn't mean that it doesn't make other people miserable.

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:56 p.m.

    I have worked closely with this issue for many years. The article is right. The question of whether there is a religious connection to suicide has been studied and does not support the hypothesis that affiliation with religion is a risk factor. Studies demonstrate the opposite. A solid religious base is a protective factor. The problem with trying to put the blame for Utah's alarming youth suicide rate on religion is that it shifts the focus away from the real causes. For a youth with little life experience, setbacks like a break up with a partner, discord at home or having their homosexuality discovered can seem insurmountable, combine this with dramatic differences in how the immature brain processes information. The CDC has been studying youth suicide in Utah. One of the giant risk factors in Utah and in other Mountain States where suicide rates are high that jumps out to me is the ready access to firearms. Families who have guns in the home with young people who are experiencing the turmoils of life need to make certain that guns a tightly secured. Youth who are chronically unhappy or depressed need to have professional intervention to help them work through their issues.

  • blackattack Orem, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:51 p.m.

    Dan, from Imagine Dragons, and Ellen are alienating one group to defend another. You can’t expect a comedian and a musician to be scientific when talking about a serious psychosocial problem, but assigning a single cause is neither true nor productive.

    We all should come together to address teen suicide, like the article suggested.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:47 p.m.

    @MaxPower - Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:26 p.m.
    "However, when one is raised to view homosexuality to be just as bad, if not worse than adultery (Miracle of Forgiveness), and then they are to remain celibate their whole lives, while at the same time teaching that nothing is more beautiful in life than the love between a married couple... it's not hard to see that this can be a motivating factor for suicide to those who are in such a situation."

    While I won't dispute there is some truth to your statement, you are isolating two teachings. You could also suggest teaching alcoholics that drinking alcohol is bad would promote suicide. That teaching singles that marriage is the ideal would promote suicide, and so on. One must recall that everything the Church teaches is the ideal which every member strives for and falls short of, but works to get closer. Most importantly, the Church teaches that Jesus Christ is the model for behavior, the source of strength to improve one's own behavior, and the source of comfort when we fail, and even when others, society, our emotions, etc. fail us. His love reaches all. These are teachings that, overall, reduce suicide rates as studies show.

  • Ophelia Bountiful, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:46 p.m.

    Research from the Family Acceptance Project shows LGBT young people are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide when experiencing "high rejection" by their families.

    Whereas LGBT young people who experience "low rejection" from families are twice as likely to attempt suicide.

    I attended a Family Acceptance workshop ten years ago. At the time, my son was in reparative therapy -- change therapy. I had been encouraged to put him in this therapy by good, well-meaning leaders.

    The workshop was a turning point for me. I realized I fit in the highly rejecting category. That night I tearfully apologized to my son, and I've never looked back. I love him unconditionally and want him to be healthy, loved, and happy. Period.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:42 p.m.

    To blame any religion (specific or in general) for suicide growth rates is not data-driven thinking. Religion in America is on the decline - especially among youth. The percentage of people (including youth) in Utah that are LDS is on the decline as more people move in from out of state. According to the studies in the article, these two data points could even be small reasons why suicide rates are up.
    The real items to look at correlating with suicide rate increases - in my opinion - are the growth of social media (especially among youth) and the declining prevalence of traditional families of 2 married parents with children. I believe these two factors would also strongly correlate with school shootings as well.
    Think about it - 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago - we had religion, in fact we had more of it. We had guns - probably more of them (per capita). But today we have growing issues we want to blame on guns and religion. I don't use social media, but understand the many good reasons somebody would - including youth. But, letting it dominate one's time will undoubtedly have negative effects - on the individual and on society.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:37 p.m.

    Many, many thanks to the Deseret News for addressing this important issue. I do hope for a follow-up article suggesting ways to deal with suicidal ideation among our youth -- and also among so many of the rest of us.

  • LisaMichelle San Jose, CA
    June 14, 2018 4:31 p.m.

    Look up the 5-year rate of change in youth (15–19) suicide rates: 2009 to 2014, by US state. "More alarming, the teen suicide rate in Utah has doubled since 2011. . . . While Utah had a doubling of suicides among teens, the rest of the country did not see a substantial increase in their suicide rate."

    I know people want to believe there isn't a problem here, but there is. Rather than trying to defend the church on a board here, why don't you try what I've done, which is to actually spend your typing energy to reach out and show love to the LGBTQ people you know. If you don't know any, ask yourself why.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    June 14, 2018 4:18 p.m.

    When there is a much higher rate of suicidal ideation among people who identify as LGBT, the question needs to be asked, is there a common biochemical factor that promotes both a non-standard sexual orientation (which affects about 4% of people) and self-destructive thinking? Both aspects of personality affect a person's emotions strongly. This is not a matter of blame, but simply recognizing that people with one particular emotional characteristic are in greater need of ameliorative care and support, just as we recognize that people with clinical depression or strong anxiety disorders may need the same kind of extra support. Significant emotional and behavioral differences can make it harder for many other people to empathize with the person suffering, at precisely the time when compassion is most needed. Blaming others for one's own self harming ideation seems likely to make it harder to get the emotional support the sufferer needs, especially in those cases where he sees suicide as a way of punishing people who have emotional ties to him but had their own emotional limitations that kept them from acting with compassion.

  • Ender Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 4:13 p.m.

    The Deseret News has created a link to the specific scientific study (you can also use Google Scholar to find similar).

  • Kiwi57 - Hamilton, NZ Wills Point, TX
    June 14, 2018 4:11 p.m.

    @Red Corvette: The "experience" of one person can only tell us about that person's experience. Anecdotes from individuals can only tell us what those individuals think. For actual causes, we need good, solid science, not sound bites from talk show hosts.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 3:51 p.m.

    @LOU Montana
    "Sometimes the truth just slaps you in the face. "

    And the truth is: Politically expedient memes are NOT a credible substitute for actual quantifiable truth

    It is interesting that many posters are quick to implicate that the LDS Church encourages suicide based upon anecdotal evidence - yet they would be the first to cry foul if anecdotal evidence were the basis for stereotyping all homosexuals as having a propensity to certain nefarious actions.

    The hypocrisy provides a perfect example of how SJW's tend to personify everything they claim to despise; and why they should be vigorously questioned.

    Simply because a form of intolerance is fashionable - doesn't make it tolerant.

  • TedDiBiase Rose Park, UT
    June 14, 2018 3:40 p.m.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide is the nation's 10th leading cause of death — and the most recent collection of data (2014-2016) shows that suicide rates have increased in almost every state since the turn of the century.
    Utah had 25.2 % increase, Montana 29.2%, Wyoming 28.8%, Colorado 23.2% and Idaho 24.7%.
    Don't see your "disproportional increase in suicides".

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    June 14, 2018 3:32 p.m.

    Sometimes the truth just slaps you in the face.

    Everyone wants to believe their world is the best but sometimes they need to hear differently.

    Take it as an awakening.

  • Johnny Triumph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 3:30 p.m.

    Thank you for this well written commentary. We'd all do well to be fully briefed before making rash judgements.

  • Matlas Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 3:27 p.m.

    I'm stunned that Ellen would say such an unfounded thing, that only serves to undermine her credibility. For someone who does so much good it's surprising to hear such a statement. Her statement is inflammatory and incorrect, implying that the LDS Church is to blame for this.

    @MaxPower - God doesn't budge in His standards, calling sin by any other name is not in harmony with God. That does not mean, however, that we should leave those who struggle on their own, to deal with trials on their own. We all can be caring and supporting.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    June 14, 2018 2:53 p.m.

    I am not surprised that Ellen would use the issue of suicide to score a cheap shot against the LDS Church. Members of the politically correct crowd often do this to attack and denigrate minorities (in this case a religious minority) they they don't take a liking to. (These are the same people who often talk about "pluralism" "diversity," and tolerance for minorities.)

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:41 p.m.


    Anecdotal events are not evidence.

  • LisaMichelle San Jose, CA
    June 14, 2018 2:40 p.m.

    I agree with the other two comments made so far. Although people who have been raised to believe that suicide is a sin (and may, therefore, answer a survey accordingly, especially a survey that also polls them on their religion to remind them of "their" values), I think in a case as dire as this, it's imperative to look at qualitative evidence. The Raised-Mormon LGBTQ people I have spoken to all said that the church's teachings on their situation is what fueled their depression and suicidal thoughts. My good friend Evan said he felt he was not accepted and he had no future. Sadly, Evan succame to those thoughts. That was back before I read the CES Letter, so I didn't know any better than to tell him I loved him. Can you blame him for having a hard time finding a will to live in a culture that marginalized him? You may point to the other Western states with high suicide rates, but you can't ignore the disproportional increase in suicides that Utah has seen since the LDS church doubled-down against gays with Prop 8 and the November policy.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:38 p.m.

    Please provide statistic on the number of LDS suicides among teens during the same time period. That would give the readers some perspective on how church members fare against the general population during the same time period. Ellen's statement is a generalization, and the DN New's statement that those who are religious (LDS) are less prone to suicide seems to be as well without some facts to back it.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    June 14, 2018 2:35 p.m.

    Watching Ellen and listening to Imagine Dragons would take me to the brink.

  • 112358 Alpine, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:30 p.m.

    Well written.

    Multiple scientific studies have shown that increased LDS religious observation is associated with a reduction – not an increase – in suicide. Yet those harboring negative views of the LDS Church persist in blaming the Church for all suicide within Utah. At best, that’s an intellectually lazy approach to a complex problem. At worst, it’s exploiting a tragic issue for political gain, while ignoring the real causes of the problem.

    For example, drugs play a prominent role in many suicides. Yet, many of the same people that blame the LDS Church for suicide are advocates of legalized recreational drug use.

    If our goal is to reduce suicides in Utah, using suicide as a means to attack the LDS Church is counterproductive.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:26 p.m.

    I applaud the Deseret News saying we all need to take a look and be more supportive.

    However, when one is raised to view homosexuality to be just as bad, if not worse than adultery (Miracle of Forgiveness), and then they are to remain celibate their whole lives, while at the same time teaching that nothing is more beautiful in life than the love between a married couple... it's not hard to see that this can be a motivating factor for suicide to those who are in such a situation.

  • Red Corvette St George, UT
    June 14, 2018 2:22 p.m.

    Not based on research? Try based on experience.