Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can you imagine a fundamentalist Christianity faith-based suicide prevention program

Help Save 1.800.SUICIDE

What we're seeing here is nothing more than a purge of services the Bush Administration and its allies would like to see replaced by a faith-based substitute of sorts or at least a substitute that they can control. Do you remember the ruckus conjured up by the Religious Right over SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) when they requested that a federally-funded conference on suicide prevention remove the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," and "transgender" from its program? It was like they were trying to purge any acknowledgement of the GLBT community and to marginalize them even though a gay teen commits suicide every five hours, unable to deal with the stress and pressure society places upon him or her.
Despite the fact that almost 2 million callers have reached help and hope over the last 8 years, and a government funded evaluation stating the benefits of 1-800-SUICIDE, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a division of Health & Human Services, has decided to create their own government run system where they would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis.
Now that the fundies are in control of SAMHSA, can you imagine the damage they can do to a suicide hotline if that comes under their control?

Let's envision the scenario here. A young gay teen distraught over life calls Bush's new suicide prevention line and explains that he is depressed. The last thing he is expecting is to be proselytized to and judged, he just wants someone to talk to. Society has placed an unbelievable amount of stress upon him, even in places where a gay person might not be taunted or harassed, what's to say that he or she doesn't suffer from historical discrimination (Troxel et. al., 2003), or the feelings of stress experienced from being one of the few members of a race or in this case different sexual orientation among a majority? I wonder if there has been research done on members of the GLBT community to see if this is applicable to them... What if the person on the hotline asks, "Are you gay?" What's that supposed to do with suicide prevention? You might ask...What if the teen says yes and the person responds, "well that's your problem. Embrace the Lord Jesus, turn away from your sinful lifestyle, and be reborn as a child of God," or "Homosexuality is an abomination" and your depression is from Satan controlling your mind and clouding it, preventing the Lord from working his wonders on you." After a long period of silence, the person directs him to reparative therapy which has been condemned by the APA.

From Religious Tolerance.org...

Common conservative Christian usage Common usage by other groups
Homosexuality is a behavior. Homosexuality is an orientation
Homosexuality is what one does. Homosexuality is what one is.
Sexual preference Sexual orientation
"I am cured of homosexuality" OR
"I am an ex-gay."
"I was a sexually active homosexual; I am now homosexual who has chosen to be celibate."
"I was once in the homosexual lifestyle, but I am a heterosexual now." "I was a bisexual who engaged in same-sex relationships. My orientation is still bisexual, but, I now choose to have only relationships with the opposite gender."
A person involved in the homosexual lifestyle A person with a bisexual or homosexual orientation who is sexually active with members of the same gender.

Let me ask you, do these teens need more judging from a suicide hotline when they get condemnation, ridicule and harassment from mainstream society? Robert Kastenbaum, a renowned expert on the psychology of dying and the death process, much like every expert on suicide urges that those who are in suicide prevention absolutely avoid provoking the suicidal person to suicide. What's to say, that a self-righteous fundamentalist is thinking about that over a chance to save a soul from the fires of hell? What's to say that a fundamentalist in charge of this line might not provoke the suicidal teen to suicide with his/her judging and condescension? You're supposed to stay away from judging and value judgments such as "suicide is wrong, you can't do that." The fundamentalists seem to send a mixed message when it comes to homosexuality such as God hates homosexuality but we must love the sin, not the sinner. Since homosexuality is not a choice, would that mean the person is an embodiment of sin? Some message of love, eh?

What if the fundamentalists subscribe to suicide myths much like many of them tend to subscribe to rape myths? What if they pass on the belief that "suicide is a sin," "suicide is the ultimate hubris against God because only He can ordain when your life ends?" Suicide prevention lines are not supposed to judge people. Judging is the LAST thing a suicidal teen needs.

Everyone who relies on the suicide line is in danger if the government establishes its own suicide hotline where it can access the information of everyone who calls it. Our administration seems to favor these faith-based groups, especially those of the fundamentalist variety and to me, that's the greatest danger any suicidal person is facing, giving the penchant these people seem to have of proselytizing and judging.

and the whole PRIVACY issue: What does the Bush Administration want with the information of those who call into the suicide prevention line?

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