In an ongoing effort to help prevent suicide, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a series of hopeful videos — several of which come from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — that encourage Latter-day Saints to listen to and love those considering suicide.
Elder Renlund encourages Latter-day Saints to “reach out in love and caring for those who have suicidal thoughts, who have attempted suicide, who feel marginalized in any way. We need to reach out with love and understanding. And you do that in concert with healthcare professionals, with ecclesiastical leaders, with friends and family support.”
The Latter-day Saint leader says the “old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever” is “totally false.” He adds that “we know from all the statistics out there that someone in the ward [congregation] is hurting. Someone is having suicidal thoughts in your ward. And as we come together as families, as churches, in a community, we can do better than we’re doing now. … Heavenly Father is pleased when we reach out and help His children. I think He’s profoundly pleased.”
Two videos feature personal stories — one of Princess Shisso, who found hope after surviving a suicide attempt, the other of Rodolfo Beltran, who endured the suicide of his son away at college.
“To call someone who is attempting suicide selfish is really not OK because there are other things that they are struggling with,” Shisso says. “They didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Oh, I want to attempt suicide.’ No, it’s a state of being. Just because we can’t see what someone is thinking or going through doesn’t mean that they don’t need help. To someone who is struggling, I would definitely say, ‘Please reach out.’ There’s always someone there who is willing to listen.”
Beltran, a local Church leader in Washington, D.C., whose son Carlos took his own life, says he used to think suicide only affects families with big problems. But now he knows suicide “can affect anybody. We need to learn as leaders of the Church how to prevent this. We need to learn how to talk about it. We need to understand that mental illness is just like having any other illness.”
The series also includes important comments from Sister Carol F. McConkie, who served in the Church’s Young Women general presidency until April 2018.