Gay suicides and the Mormon Church

IN  July of this year – following the suicide of Todd Ransom, a 28-year-old gay man from Orem, Utah, who was reportedly struggling to reconcile his sexual orientation with his Mormon upbringing – horrifying statistics emerged regarding  suicide, particularly among teenagers,  in Utah.

Todd Ransom

Deseret News, a newspaper owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints revealed that:

- Every 11 days a Utah teen commits suicide
- Utah leads the nation in suicide among men 15-24
- Utah has the 11th highest overall suicide rate in the nation
- Suicide is the #1 cause of death among Utah teens

Utah bloggers pointed that Ransom’s was the third gay suicide in Utah in the the summer. David Standley, 21 of Ogden, took his life on June 30, and Weber State University student Tim Tilley, 20, killed himself on July 11. These deaths were largely ignored by local news outlets.

Ransom’s family denied their son was gay. In a website memorial they stated:

Our beloved son, brother and friend took his own life at Battle Creek Canyon near Pleasant Grove, Utah after a long and painful battle with depression. Some people have said that Todd ended his life because he was gay or felt persecuted by the LDS Church and his family, but this is not true.

We now learn that another 28-year-old gay man from Utah, Colt David Hansen, died last Wednesday After a lifelong struggle against the Mormon Church which he felt never accepted him because he was gay.

According to friends, Colt had a fight with his father the night before he died over the Mormon faith and his refusal to be a part of it. However, his obituary reads that he was a member of the Mormon church and despite never going on a Mormon mission, the family is asking that donations be made to the Mormon Mission fund.

Colt David Hansen

The obituary also never makes any mention that he was gay.

Colt’s family was refusing to let his friends attend the funeral, presumably presided over by a Mormon Bishop, calling it a private family affair.

LGBTQNation asks:

When will our families learn that they must love us for who we are, and they dishonor our memories when they try to pretend we are something other than who we are.

At this stage it is uncertain as to whether Hansen took his own life or had died from an accidental overdose. PRIDEinUtah is trying to get a copy of the coroner’s report, although even in the case of suicides those reports almost always rule accidental.

LGBTQNation adds:

We may never know what truly was going through Colt’s mind in those final moments, but what we do know for sure is that we loved him, he will be dearly missed and we must do more for these people who feel that suicide is the only way out.

Hat tip: Alan