The Family Children of God by insidersChildren of God Family International
Home Chat Boards Articles COG History COG Publications People Resources Search site map > chatboards > genX > archives > post #21012

Suicide Statistics

Posted by Thorwald on May 11, 2005 at 20:59:31

So, I was reading a statement by Claire Borowick about suicide (see below) and some "fuzzy math" (to borrow the term from dubya) came to mind.

Claire Borowick wrote:
Incidence of Suicide amongst former members

In response to the tragic suicide/murder of former second generation member Ricky Rodriguez, detractors of the Family have publicly stated that a high incidence of suicide exists amongst former second generation members. Such claims, though unsubstantiated, have been parroted by media sources without any investigative attempts to verify these statements.

Their claim that nearly 30 suicides occurred in the past 15 years has no basis in fact or official causes of death. Many of the people listed as suicides on their web site actually died of natural or accidental causes. We were only able to confirm 11 of the alleged cases, occurring over a 20 year period of our history. In the majority of these cases, there was no indication that the personís past affiliation to the Family had any bearing on the decision to take their life.

We acknowledge that those who were once a part of our movement are as likely to succumb to social illnesses as the population at large. According to our records, however, the rate of incidence of suicide amongst the approximately 32,000 former members of the Family is far below the average in general, and in conformance to the expected rate in some age ranges.

The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is responsible for a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people per year. In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide, rendering it among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44. In a period of history where the rates of suicide are rising at an alarming rate, suicide and acts of violence are virtually unknown in our fellowship.

First of all, 32k members have left the group in the past 20 years? That is a rate of 1,600/year! That doesn't seem right. However, if we allow that and say that was the average rate per year and that rate hasn't changed, then their current 11,297 members will have all left by seven years from now (assuming the rate leaving is much faster than the rate of those joining and babies being born).

If "only" 11 former members have committed suicide in the past 20 years, that would be at a rate of almost 2 per 100,000. However, if these 11 only include SGAs and SGAs only started leaving in large numbers for the past 10 years (mainly because they weren't old enough) and we assume this number to be around 9,165 (that is, every FGA that ever joined, 3,688, married at least one other FGA and they all had on average five children: 3,688 / 2 * 5 = 9,165), that would bring the rate up to 12 per 100,000! And this is supposed to the be an "ideal" environment we were raised in, right? This number is actually much higher if the more likely number of around 20 suicides (among SGAs) and the more likely 3,262 former SGAs (9,165 - 5,903 <- current SGAs). Using this number, the rate increases to around 61 per 100,000, or almost 4 times the world average!!

(note: statistics taken from