by Rabbi Dov Fischer in the Israel National News
Throughout the recently ended “Pride Month,” the halakhic community was bombarded with LG(B)T(QIA)+ propaganda arguing that mainstream Orthodox refusal to welcome the LG(B)T(QIA)+ lifestyle and its members into the Torah mainstream (e.g., Yeshiva University refusing to recognize the LG(B)T(QIA)+ club; a yeshiva terminating a transgendered teacher) is a major contributor to suicide.
Thus, according to the LG(B)T(QIA)+ polemic, the issue is not merely one of “human rights” but of “pikuach nefesh” (saving lives). That comprises their strategic polemical effort to reverse the halakhic argument away from defending Torah law and instead to accusing the halakhic community of failing to adhere to the requirements of pikuach nefesh, a principle of such import that it “overrides” Shabbat. Under that LG(B)T(QIA)+ argument, those of us who stand by normative halakha on this issue are akin to “murderers.” The most recent example of this polemic was the tragic former YU student who killed himself only recently. It later emerged that he suffered from severe long-term mental illness, but that part of his tragic story was covered up or given only minor mention. See, e.g., “Yeshiva University Is Left in Mourning After a Beloved Gay Alum Dies by Suicide”; “A Young Gay Orthodox Man Died by Suicide. We Must Confront How Jewish Teachings Harmed Him”.
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The media sure knows how to distort truths.
LG(B)T(QIA)+ propagandists tactically argue that discrimination against them and rejecting the LG(B)T(QIA)+ lifestyle generate increased suicide among their number. Thus, if the Orthodox Jewish community would stop speaking against their forbidden behavior and unnatural desires, and instead would warmly welcome “Queer Jews” into Orthodox institutions, lives would be saved because suicides would be prevented. Accordingly, LG(B)T(QIA)+ propagandists argue inter alia that it is a matter of pikuach nefesh for YU to recognize a homosexual students group and for Orthodox Jews in general to support “Pride Month,” “Pride Parades,” and to welcome LG(B)T(QIA)+ expressions into the mainstream Torah community.
The truth instead is that mental illness is a prime cause of suicide — not community rejection of deviant values alien to Torah — and that the higher LG(B)T(QIA)+ suicide rates stem from the incidence of mental illness and related clinical depression — and not from societal discrimination and belittling. The official data support the truth.
Orthodox Jews typically do not bury suicides in the outskirts of cemeteries but in the main area because rabbonim (Orthodox rabbis) typically hold that suicide stems not from apostasy but from mental illness / clinical depression / excruciating physical suffering. But not from discrimination or belittling.
An interesting corollary question is whether LG(B)T(QIA)+ can breed mental illness . . . or . . . whether mental illness can breed LG(B)T(QIA)+. This is not to say that LG(B)T(QIA)+ people should be regarded, by definition, as mentally ill. But in terms of those inclined toward suicide, would an average mentally balanced person, without medical depression issues, grow up to be LG(B)T(QIA)+ and fragile enough to be a suicide risk? Alternatively, does an otherwise mentally healthy person who first “experiments” but thereafter slides into an LG(B)T(QIA)+ lifestyle have a higher chance of developing mental illness over time?
No data seem to study this. It is too non-PC to study honestly and scientifically. However, we do know that discrimination, in and of itself, does not breed suicide; otherwise, Jews would have registered two millennia of world-leading suicide rates.
LG(B)T(QIA)+ propaganda stresses that if people do not capitulate to the demands of the homosexual/lesbian/transgender mafia, then such “discrimination” and “homophobia” causes higher suicide rates among the LG(B)T(QIA)+ universe. So, either you stop saying that what is unnatural is indeed unnatural, and what is contra Torah is contra Torah, or you are a murderer, responsible for all their suicides.
However, even assuming ridiculously that a polite, soft-spoken, understated, legitimate defense of Torah standards and the refusal to buckle to the LG(B)T(QIA)+ mafia is actually “hatred,” “bigotry,” and “homophobia,” the data below, culled from reliable medical sources, prove unequivocally that suicide is not related to someone being in a group that is victimized by discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, and “phobia.”
As simple commonsense (besides the data below) tells us, suicide is traceable primarily to mental illness or to situations where individuals experience indescribably unbearable physical pain with no realistic prospect for meaningful relief. Thus, if LG(B)T(QIA)+ people have a disproportionately high suicide rate — and if the reason is not that they face “homophobia” — then the truth is one of two obvious corollaries:
1. Either LG(B)T(QIA)+ people inclined toward suicide disproportionately suffer from mental illness, and their unnatural desires stem in many cases from some mental illness within them, or
2. Suicide-inclined LG(B)T(QIA)+ people seem to become mentally ill as a result of living an LG(B)T(QIA)+ lifestyle.
Data substantiate that discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, and even unwarranted hatred do not cause disproportionately higher suicide rates among a population group. Consider that, all politics aside, no demographic groups in America face more discrimination and bigotry than do Blacks and Hispanics. Third are Asians. By contrast, no group faces less discrimination and bigotry than do Whites.
Notwithstanding polemics that Blacks are favored with government set-asides and other welfare benefits, or that Whites are under attack by Woke critical race theory advocates and leftist media who attack Caucasians for having “White Privilege,” any fair assessment is that American Blacks, Hispanics, and then Asians face the most bias and unwarranted hatred, while Whites are most advantaged. If suicide rates were related to the amount of hatred, bigotry, rejection, and “phobia” people encounter from The Other, we should expect that Blacks would have the highest suicide rates, Hispanics next higher, Asians next, and Whites the lowest suicide rates.
However, consider these data published for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in May 2021, appearing on the website of the National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information:
The overall age-adjusted suicide rates between 2018 and 2019 for the following groups are as follows:
For Black individuals — 7.4 per 100,000 individuals.
For Hispanic individuals — 7.3 per 100,000 individuals.
For Asian or Pacific Islander individuals — 7.1 per 100,000 individuals.
For White individuals — 17.6 per 100,000 individuals.
The actual charts for death rates can be seen by clicking the links here. (Note that men have higher suicide rates than women.)
Age-adjusted death rates for suicide, by sex, race, and Hispanic origin, 2019
(Source: CDC 2021. National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 70, No. 8. Table 10)
Death rates for suicide, age, race, and Hispanic origin, 2018: Men
(Source: CDC, 2022. Health United States, 2019. Table 9)
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2019/009-508.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]
Death rates for suicide, age, race, and Hispanic origin, 2018: Women
(Source: CDC, 2022. Health United States, 2019. Table 9.)
In considering that LG(B)T(QIA+) suicide rates derive from mental illness and clinical depression, not from criticism or discrimination — and certainly not from respectful affirmation of halakhic standards, note that data from Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey (ABES) released by the CDC, reveal that gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than twice as likely to report depressive symptoms, more than three times as likely to have seriously considered suicide, and more than four times as likely to have made a suicide attempt within the 12 months prior to their participation in the study. Moreover, “transgender” youth fare even worse.
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that “transgender” and “nonbinary” youth reported significantly higher rates of depressed mood, seriously considering suicide, and suicide attempts compared to “cisgender” (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) “queer” youth.
Similarly, although the full range of LGBTQ+ identities is not commonly included in large-scale studies of mental health, there is strong evidence from recent research that members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions — especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGB adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition, and “transgender” individuals are nearly four times as likely as “cisgender” individuals to experience a mental health condition.
Another Woke myth exploded. Another media lie exposed.
Originally published in the Israel National News