On February 25th, 2000 — in the heat of the LDS Church’s Prop 22 efforts in California to ban same-sex marriage — a young LDS returned missionary named Stuart Matis drove to his local LDS chapel, pinned a “DO NOT RESUCITATE” sign to his shirt, and shot himself in the head. More of Stuart’s story can be read here and here. Also, to read one of Stuart’s last letters on the subject written weeks before his death — click here.
A few years ago I did some research on the topic, and discovered that Utah leads the nation in suicides for men from 18-24 years old, and that an estimated 1/3 of those suicides are tied to homosexuality.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Bruce Rognan and his son Chris — about the suicide of their son/brother Curtis. I would like to share with you the following 4 clips from this multi-part interview:
First, here are the father and brother discussing how Curtis didn’t “fit into the mold” of Mormon culture, and how Bruce once felt inspired to discuss the issue of homosexuality with his son, but didn’t out of cultural/social fear…..
Second, here are Bruce and Chris talking about “the day” Curtis committed suicide….
Third, here is (Bruce) the father trying to find meaning in the suicide, and wondering how Christ would have us treat homosexuals in the church…
And fourth, here is Bruce providing some recommendations/suggestions to LDS parents and church leaders about how to avoid suicides in the future:
(the full set of interviews can be located here)
For those interested, I would love to brainstorm on how we (as members and leaders in the LDS Church) could work to develop greater understanding and support for gay members of our church — and what we might be able to do, together, to carve out a space for them, even if they choose to pursue relationships as homosexuals.
My only hope/goal is that we can avoid more isolation and suicides in the future. Perhaps together, we can make a small difference in this regard. And even if it saves just one life — perhaps it will have been worth it.
(Please no arguments about politics or church doctrine/policy here. Thanks.)
Also, for more information on suicide prevention — see here: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/suicidal_signs.aspx