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SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church released a series of videos Monday to help prevent suicide.
The eight-video series, which can be found on suicide.lds.org, is the latest effort from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the growing concern surrounding suicide and to give individuals resources to help prevent it. In a statement, the church said the videos are meant to “encourage Latter-day Saints to listen to and love those considering suicide.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Carol F. McConkie, who previously served in the church’s young women general presidency, are featured in the videos.
Statistics show that each congregation has at least one person who has suicidal thoughts, Elder Renlund said in one of four videos featuring him. He said the idea that “suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever” is “totally false.”
Elder Renlund encouraged church leaders, professionals and members to work together in this effort to “reach out in love and caring for those who have suicidal thoughts, who have attempted suicide, who feel marginalized in any way."
He said families, churches and communities can "do better than we're doing now."
When this happens, "we decrease any kind of embarrassment, reduce any kind of stigma and gain further understanding about the process," he said.
Elder Renlund added that “I think that Heavenly Father is pleased when we reach out and help his children. I think that he is profoundly pleased.”
In one of two videos featuring Sister McConkie, she encouraged those listening to be attuned to the needs of those around them, and to "put down the phone, and look, and see who needs your help."
She acknowledged that hearing that a loved one is thinking about harming or killing themselves can often be “shocking.”
“And in that moment you really don’t know what to say,” she added. “And yet at that same time, you’ve got to pull yourself together and seek the spirit of the Lord to guide you, to help you feel what he would say, to help you be able to express love for that person and the assurance that you are there for them."
She said it is important for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts to know they have a loved one who will be with them through the entire process of getting help.
"This is probably the preeminent thing that we can do in that moment. We are with them, and willing to walk with them and be for them what the Savior would be."
A young woman found hope after surviving a suicide attempt, talking with her congregational bishop, and getting connected with a therapist. She said she feels God has given her specific gifts and talents to make others' lives better.
"I'm needed in this world," she said.
Calling people “selfish” for attempting suicide is “really not OK,” she said; there are other struggles they may be dealing with that impact them.
“They didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Oh, I want to attempt suicide,’” the woman said. “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.”
Rodolfo Beltran shared his story of his son Carlos who came home early from an LDS mission as a result of the depression and anxiety he experienced. Although Carlos "was having a tough time" in school, he told his family he was still enjoying his time there. Days before Carlos took his life, he and his dad were making plans for the summer.
"It's devastating. It changes your entire life," Rodolfo said.
Rodolfo once thought that suicide was something that only "affects the people that come from dysfunctional families," or those who have "big problems, big issues;" he now understands that "it could affect anybody."
It is important for members to know they belong, that it is OK and safe for them to talk about their mental health struggles, he said.
The videos released Monday are part of an ongoing effort by the church to prevent suicide. The church’s suicide prevention website, which was originally released in September 2016, also includes resources to help individuals who need help, or for people worried about others who may be contemplating suicide. It also has resources available to individuals who have lost someone by suicide.
In April 2018, the LDS Church donated $150,000 to Utah to help in their efforts to prevent suicide. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also serves as an LDS Church representative on a state task force implemented in February.
Editor's note: In the interest of privacy, one of the individuals in the video series has since had their name removed from the video and this article.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Rodolfo Beltran. His name has since been corrected.