the painful truth about the worldwide church of god

Suicides Statistics For The Worldwide Church Of God
(And Related Groups)

If you know of any suicides in your area, please send me the details.  All information will be kept confidential except as posted below. The info below is necessary in order to prevent duplications. Please send the name along too, for statistical purposes only. I will not use the names (Editors discretion) unless the closest relative requests it. I can also link to memorial sites, if requested.

Editor Email

Suicides Related To The Worldwide Church of God.
Country/
State
Last
Attended
Area

Approx. Date

M/F Age Personal Comments by person submitting.

Posted

MO MO

May 27, 2016

M 73

LCG minister Karl Beyersdorfer. Suicide. Unknown reasons at this time.
-------------
A blog post at 'Banned by HWA' finds church members blaming his death on 'demons'. Former WCG minister
Dennis Diehl had this to say in response: 'I have a problem with your rash judgement on Karl's death. It is judgmental, malicious, rude and ignorant to label his suicide as caused by "Demons". That is the excuse for far too many human medical and emotional problems one can come up with living on the Planet in these times.

Karl could have privately suffered from depression for many reasons. Coupled with anxiety and stress over his family, his church, his job choice and even a loss of faith in it all due to ongoing shenanigans in his church of choice.

WCG, UCG, PCG and the sliver RCG , all provide enough drama and stress in the lives of men who simply want to serve a local congregation with what they perceive as "the truth" to drive any sensitive human being to despair.'

05/29/2016

FL FL May, 2014 F 47

 I don't have a ton of details but I know of two for sure and one possible all the same family. June 2014 Cyndi Dykas (maiden name - Cynthia Cardenas) hung herself in the back yard leaving behind husband and children. I grew up with her in our sister congregation of Ft. Laud FL (I was in Miami) She was my age so she would have been 47-48 at time of death. Very sad situation: Her mother died abruptly under mysterious circumstances in our early teens and it was rumored the girls (there were several) had been abused. This was mostly known to us because the deacons and elders didn't want their sons dating "those girls" so some snippets got around. In talking to another mutual friend after seeing the obit I found out that her younger sister had committed suicide previously.

01/07/2016

D.C.

Washington, D.C

1991 M 48

William (Bill) Schuhl was a member of the Washington, D.C. Worldwide Church of God congregation in the 1980s. It is unclear of his membership status at the time of his suicide in 1991. He came to the belief that he had found a Constitutional loophole that exempted citizens from paying taxes. In Maryland, he had a confrontation with the State over unpaid taxes and he and his wife were found guilty of tax evasion. Before sentencing, Mr. Schuhl delivered letters to the Judge and to other public officials stating that he would rather be a free dead Marylander than to be a political prisoner of the State. Then, he went into his garage where his body was found dead from a gunshot to the head. It is unclear how his WCG experience affected his personal beliefs or his mental condition. The Church always taught “render unto Caesar what is Caesars”. His story is still available on line HERE.

03/22/2014

CO CO?

7/15/12013

M 63

James E. Turner was a minister for many years in WWCG. He passed away on July 15th of 2013. He is a casualty of WWCG.  He committed suicide.

James Edward Turner, Jimbo, 63, died July 15, 2013 in Thornton, CO.
James was born July 18, 1949 to Bertha Mae Turner and Brady Lee Turner in Fontaine, Arkansas. James was the youngest child of four: 2 older brothers, Melvin and Ernie and one elder sister Barbara. 
James spent part of his youth in Arkansas. From the age of six years he helped contribute to the family income by picking cotton. While living as a boy in Arkansas he developed his lifelong love of fishing. As a student he excelled in his studies and served as class president before moving to Texas at the age of 13. James graduated from Imperial High School in Big Sandy, Texas in 1967. During his high school years, he became a talented drummer and was an accomplished athlete. He continued to shine as a basketball player and played in the stage band and orchestra at Ambassador University, graduating with a degree in theology in 1971. 
After graduation James married Diane Cornwell. The two were married for 37 years and had three children, Kim, Jackie and Michael. 
As an adult, James served countless individuals as a Pastor for World Wide Church of God. He and his family lived in Texas, Louisiana, California, Arizona, Alaska, and Colorado during his time in the ministry. 
James particularly fell in love with Alaska, the Last Frontier. He was very taken by the beauty of this great state. Some of his favorite Alaskan activities were snowmobiling, fishing, and hunting. 
James touched the lives of countless individuals through his many years as a minister. In addition he was an accomplished author who helped numerous people in writing his book Grace in Dark Places. In recent years James enjoyed serving as a deacon at The Sanctuary Church of Denver, Colorado. 
James is survived by his son Mike Turner, daughters Kim Turner and Jackie Hahn, son-in-law Dustin Hahn, grandchildren Berkley and Asher Hahn, brothers Melvin Turner and Ernie Turner. He was preceded in death by his mother Bertha, father Brady and sister Barbara.

03/03/2014

WA

Spokane

1982 F 21

I was newly baptized in the midwest, went to Spokane for Tabernacles in 82, decided to settle out there in the NW. Met Debbie at the fest, after another lady turned me down for a date. She was newly baptized, only 21, from a troubled household, parents. We dated a little, wrote to each other, but she was obviously a troubled person like i was, and still am, from a very toxic family. She stayed in Tacoma with an elder's family, then moved to Yakima, where her parents lived. No jobs any good, then moved to Spokane, still in the church, got super depressed. took drugs, and died. i am reluctant to give her last name, as I do not want to hurt the family still alive. July 1982 was the funeral, and Mr. Gerald Flurry, her pastor, gave the eulogy.

02/03/2014

W.Va.

Clarksburg

Dec. 18
2012
M 44

I found your page about the suicides of former WCG members after I attended a memorial for an old friend of mine yesterday. attended the WCG from 1978 (when he was born) until 1997. He was a star athlete in the Clarksburg congregation and one of my best friends until we both left the church in 1997. I never saw him again. He took his life on December 18, 2012. I was told by one of his close friends that his wife had left him and that he felt that his marriage was a binding contract with god and that he had to kill himself to honor god. I had some contact with him on facebook prior to his death, he told me that he missed our church "family" and that he wished we all could get together and it would be like the old days. There is no doubt in my mind that his mental state was a result of his involvement with the WCG. He left behind 2 young children

06/18/2013

Texas

Dallas

August 6,
2012

M 27

Reader reported his death. His family said it was a "gun accident" which is what LCG reported as well. But the police report says otherwise. Cause Of Death: GUNSHOT WOUND OF HEAD (INTRAORAL)

12/23/2012

Texas

Victoria

Sept 7, 1990

M 21

Reader reported his death.

Hanging, self inflicted.   21 years old.

3/30/10

VA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington DC congregation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 7, 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Dean Norwood
Born September 18, 1941

Her full name was Nancy Dean Norwood. She was born in MT. Airy, Maryland in 1941 and interred there on April 10, 1976. She did, in fact walk into the Potomac River near Great Falls, VA on April 7th. Her body was found on the Maryland side of the river, somewhere near Potomac, MD. Apparent cause of death was suicide.

I received a phone call that morning from her sister, Stella, letting me know of her death. I attended her open casket on April 9th where I was severely disturbed at looking at my friend. I paced back and forth in the hall where her body laid. The funeral home was located in Frederick, MD.

The following morning, on the Sabbath, I was in the funeral procession that trekked from the funeral home to her birthplace, the same Mt. Airy. In some church cemetery there, I can't remember the name, but I can remember the location should I need to find it, we buried her body. I remember looking out over a rolling countryside, with a gentle breeze blowing, as I gave her my final goodbye.

I have no doubts that being a member of the Worldwide Church of God was a contributing factor in her death. They didn't believe in psychiatrists or psychologist. With professional help, maybe, just maybe, she'd still be alive today. We'll never know.

 Mr. Payne is the source of this information.

Updated
Nov. 26, 2014
January, 2013

6/21/2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WI

Brookfield

3/12/2005

Male

44

Murder(7)/Suicide(1)

Terry Ratzman age 44 Milwaukee (Waukesha), WI.  My parents were in the front row at the church service of Meredith's offshoot of WCG, where Terry gunned down seven people before turning the gun on himself.  My parents, and those who chose to side with the church, indifferently shrug off the incident:  It was 'satan' that got into poor Terry's head.... I didn't argue with them, having grown up in the WCG, I already know that is useless.  The poor guy, victim of the disallusionment of a waning Armstrong empire - the media had a field day with ex-members talking about cultish rules, etc of the WCG and the members denying it all (LIARS).  I was thoroughly disgusted.

[submitted by a reader]

12/21/06

Alabama

Anniston

1993

Male

26

This young man had attended Worldwide for much of his life along with his parents. Sometime in the early 90's he left and joined a military organization. On the day he committed suicide he called his parents to inform them that they were about to go through some great trial. After the phone call, he returned to the room (he was stationed on some battleship) and shot himself.

5/15/00

Australia

Brisbane

1982

Male

28

 

10/30/99

CANADA

Calgary

2000

Male

20's

He was a regular attendee, was in the choir. He had met a young lady, introduced her to the Lord, and were planning their
wedding.

4/2/00

CA

Pasadena

1991-92

Male

27

In a suicide letter mailed to his ex-wife and parents, he expressed that he
was a failure because, though he tried to turn his life around, he couldn't
measure up to god's/the church's standards. Tragically, he left behind a
four-year-old son.

1/24/00

CA

Pasadena, AM

1995/96?

Ron Howe

 

Pastor of Pasadena AM church in the '80's. Jumped off Golden Gate Bridge.

1/7/01

CA

Pasadena

1974

Male

19

His suicide occurred at the height of the 1974 ministerial upheaval of that year, which was over GTA's conduct, among other things. He walked to the bridge sometime after attending a class which (name withheld, but he ruled with a rod of iron) taught as a substitute teacher that same day. Mr. (RodOfIron) spent an hour describing the horrors of the "coming great tribulation." I was there. It was pretty scary at that time and place. I don't know how much, if any, this contributed to (name withheld)'s decision. I am only giving the facts as I know them, and not attempting to place blame or responsibility.

10/31/99

CA

Pasadena

1997

Male

29

Left behind wife and infant daughter.

10/21/99

CA

Pasadena

1982

Male

late teens

Evangelist's son

10/21/99

CO

Colorado Springs

1998

Male

50's

He was always pleasant, but quiet, and was a deacon in his 50's with two grown children. He said he was "burnt out on life and had no more to give."

12/11/99

DE

Laurel

August, 1994

Female

24

Grew up in the church

10/19/99

DE

Seaford

1997

Male

25

He and his family had been in
the church since he was little. He was a wonderful, loving and beautiful
person, whom I did not recognize at his funeral. Friends stated that he
was so afraid of rejection by his family and the church that he turned to
drugs.

8/2/01

GA

Macon

6/14/02

Male

34

Rodney Lain

Rodney Lain and Mark Flynn

Rodney Lain Mourned By Many

6/14/02

IA

Waterloo

1991

Male

30's

He had been disfellowshipped.

10/21/99

IL

Belleville

1999

Male

45

It is reported that he had feelings of failure to please God

12/28/99

IL

Chicago West, Hinsdale

1998

Male

late 20's

Manic depressive

12/11/99

IL

Joliet

Mid 1990's

Male

early 20's

He grew up in wcg. He had recently married and his wife had just had a baby.

12/11/99

IN

Lafayette

Mid 1980's

Male

18

Stated in his note that he wanted to die because he could never please God in this life and he just wanted to wait for the second resurrection where he could try again.

11/7/99

IN

Muncie-Anderson

1988

Male

23

His suicide letter told his family that he had talked to God about escaping the tribulation, and that he was pretty confident that he would be in the second resurrection, and that they shouldn't worry. He had left the "Church" a few years previously and was marked as someone interested in demons and the occult because he enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons (the game). He lived with our family for a summer, and I loved him as a brother. A talented artist with a beautiful sense of humor. He is missed.

11/7/99

IN

Muncie-Anderson

1997

Male

26

D. was always marked as "no-good" by many of the elders and deacons in our congregation. He confided in me once that he thought that the ministers and elders, on the whole, were a bunch of phonies who lied in the pulpit to make themselves look righteous. Never having been encouraged by the adults around him, he became addicted to alcohol and drugs. One night in a bar, he shot and killed a woman, injured another, then turned the gun on himself. He is missed.

11/7/99

IN

Muncie-Anderson

1999

Female

49

This woman had left Worldwide Church of God about 16 years prior to her suicide. This past spring, she was found dead in her vehicle. After parking her car on a railroad track, she was hit by an oncoming train. She was the mother of six children.

11/7/99

India

Chennai

 

Male

29

Lynn was a member of Worldwide Church of God. He lived in Chennai, in South India. WCG taught its members to keep the Sabbath strictly. Because of Sabbath-keeping it was impossible to find a job. So he could not find a job. He was distraught, quarreled with his mother (a member, too). The church severely reprimanded him. He jumped before a rushing train, died a ghastly death. The church announced that an accident claimed Lynn's life. He was around 29 years of age when he died.

4/13/02

KS

Wichita

1966-69?

Male

Late 20's

T. was a very kind and outgoing person who was totally committed to the wwcg and it's work. His brother was an AC student, and his mother a well known and faithful local congregation member. The rumor was that T. became so discouraged with the local ministry attacking his self worth, that eventually he felt worthless and not up to "God's" calling. T. was a wonderful human being that in a different environment would not only have flourished but have been a beloved member of any community. The ministry never discussed his suicide, but his mother's beloved position in the church and Mrs. H's terrible bitterness over the events that lead up to T.'s suicide were well known.

11/3/99

KS

Wichita

1966-69?

Male

Late 20's's

C. was a very fragile individual who truly believed that the wwcg would not only lead him to salvation, but a wonderful life. As is as clear now as it was then, the wwcg ministry had no skills whatsoever in dealing with psychological or basic life problems. C.s' suicide was announced from the pulpit as a case of "demonism". His consorting with demons was described in detail. Whether anyone (wwcg or otherwise) ever witnessed any of this "demonism" this was never questioned. Thinking of the many times that C. rode with my family to church, the only the qualities of sincerity and commitment to helping other people come to mind.

11/3/99

ME

Bangor

early 90's

Male & Female

50's

Murder Suicide

12/11/99

MO

Springfield

Late 1970's

Female

Late 40's

After a divorce and remarriage situation that left her with no husband or children

11/7/99

New Zealand

Auckland

1973

Male

19

Son of a church member - a lovely young man


5/7/01

New Zealand

Auckland

1992

Male

Late 30's

Single, though he had been married before - he had lived in South Africa before that - the ministry broke up a happy marriage of mixed race. He was said to have said their marriage had been very happy


5/7/01

New Zealand

Auckland

1993

Male

49

He worked too hard and a nervous breakdown. I blame the mind-set we had He was such a conscientious person - There was so much pressure to be perfect -No support, only criticism from the tyrannical minister, and not enough mention of the love of God, the Grace of God or the mercy of God. One never gets over these things - you just learn to live with it.

 

5/7/01

NY

Manhattan

1986

Male

31

 One of the first people I befriended by when "God put me in" the church in Manhattan in Jan. of 1986 was a young man named (name deleted). He seemed more normal than most of the guys my age (31 at the time). He had a good job, and had the "unusual" traits of being sincere and introspective. We had a real meaningful talk over at my place, which I needed, being new and more than a bit scared.

Yet somehow he ended up rooming with a very dysfunctional member who, a couple of years later, shot a gun out of a taxi cab to impress his buddies.

By the summer, he had stopped attending and if I remember right, moved upstate. Then we heard that he had shot himself to death in the woods.

3/3/00

OH

Cincinnati West

1995

Male

Late 30's

11/10/2014: His name was Tom Jones, and he attended the Lexington, KY congregation. I was a pallbearer for him. I don't know who did the original post, but I don't believe that they were aware of multiple issues that he was facing.  I had already left WCG for doctrinal differences; I doubt that a single sermon would have led him to take his life. He is greatly missed.


He was a tennis instructor and a fine, proper, upstanding young man. He waited for years to find the right woman to marry. In late '94, he met a lovely young lady from the Cincinnati West congregation that had been divorced (I believe). I saw him and his fiancé once during the 1st day of unleavened bread services. They were very happy and very much in love. Greg A. came to Cincinnati to speak during the last day of unleavened bread. It may have been something that was said there (that was when all of the changes were being forced down the throats of the membership), that made him become depressed to the point that he took his own life.

Updated
11/10/2014

 

11/7/99

OH

Cincinnati West

2002

Female

Late 30's

I guess, I remember being a young child and going to her wedding. I do know she had three young children.

9/6/02

PA

Bethlehem and sister church, Wilkes-Barre

 

 

 

It has been reported to me that there are a total of EIGHT suicides in this church area.
One man was in his late 30's, and left 4 boys and a wife.  One gentleman was elderly.  The 6 remaining were teens and young adults, some having grown up "in the church", and some still attended at the times of their deaths.  One was an overdose, one jumped off a dock, one was a self-inflicted knife, 3 were guns, one was carbon monixide, and one I do not know how it was done. It is not important. Just need to differentiate them. If anyone has info on the other four, please send it to me.

10/19/99

PA

Bethlehem and sister church, Wilkes-Barre

1986

Female

17

 

10/19/99

PA

Bethlehem and sister church, Wilkes-Barre

1992

Male

19

 

10/19/99

PA

Bethlehem and sister church, Wilkes-Barre

1992

Female

25

 

10/19/99

PA

Bethlehem and sister church, Wilkes-Barre

1999

Male

30?

 

10/19/99

TX

Dallas East

June 1996

Male

25

Grew up in the church

10/19/99

TX

Gladewater

1992

Female

30's

Left behind husband and two daughters

10/21/99

WA

Olympia

1986?

Male

18

Grew up in the church.  Hounded into suicide by the "loving" attention of the churches hierarchy and one Assistant preacher named **** *******

He was an intelligent and handsome fellow.  His loss was a stain of blood on the whole Worldwide Church of God.  

10/21/99

WA

Spokane

1975

Male

 

Murder/Suicide Pastor Don Weininger killed his wife and then committed suicide.

 

1/30/00

WI

Hudson

I would like to add to the suicide listings page please. Her name was Mary, she was the young divorced mother of two wonderful boys. She was from Wisconsin and committed suicide after speaking to my father-in-law (a "pillar" of the church, her father, who is still a member).

Mary left the church by refusing to attend and basically was cast out of the family.  When she died, she went out into her front yard (she was living in the southern u.s. at the time) and shot herself in the head.  Her boys found her.  They were very young and had to go live with their grandfather and grandmother in Hudson.

Her boys meant the world to her, but she had no family support because she left the church, had recently divorced, and was in deep depression.

The "minister" didn't have a kind word to say about her at the funeral with her sons present.

Her sons are grown now, but she is missed every day.

4/1/02

WI

Milwaukee

1990?

Male

Late 50's

Not sure if this was the case but the minister in the area at this time would not allow people to take medication, even when they were manic depressive.

10/19/99

WI

Waukesha

1995

Male

34

Grew up in the church.

10/19/99

WI

West Bend

Oct. '99

Male

34

Grew up in the church. Would not go to Medical Doctors for extreme headache pain. Left a wife and two children.  The really sad part is not just that he killed himself, but the damage that had been done to him mentally by the church that he was not able to seek real help.  

10/19/99

WA

Spokane

Early 2001

Male

16

One I did not see listed was a 16 year old who killed himself in Spokane in early 2001. I went with my sister to the memorial service but did not know who the people were nor did I really care. There were several people there from the Worldwide Church of God in Washington who I had not seen in 20 years. All I remember my sister saying was that he was an only child and it was devastating to the parents. They were very devoted to The Church and had been authoritarian parents. The boy was said to be sensitive and somewhat disturbed emotionally.

8/15/06

AL

Mobile

6/12/1980

Male

29

Suicide(1)

Dan Thomas was an outfielder with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976 & '77 who was known as the "Sundown Kid" because, as a WCG member, he refused to play on the Sabbath. Because baseball games are regularly played on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, this hastened the premature end of a promising career.

A few years earlier, while in the minors, Thomas had been given a lengthy suspension for slugging an umpire (I'm not sure if he was in the WCG when this happened, but I don't think he was). His last appearance in organized baseball was in the Inter-American League, an independent minor league that operated in 1979, and folded in mid-season.

On June 12, 1980, Dan Thomas hanged himself in a jail cell in Birmingham, AL, where he was being held on a rape charge. He had turned 29 on May 9. The Sporting News carried an obituary.

[submitted by a reader]

11/07/07

CA

Oakland

1967 M 28

Grant Fowler

I really don't know what troubled Grant.  He and I were the objects of "match-making" and I was only in his company twice that I remember.  Both occasions were in social settings with a small group of church members...once for an ice skating get-together and the other at a small dinner gathering at one couples' apartment.  Grant was polite but quiet and reserved.  He didn't call for a third "date."  Probably within a few weeks my mom told me he had shot himself at his apartment.  No idea who was behind the match-making, I didn't know the couples involved, probably something cooked up with my mom (my dad never attended church).
 
Grant has remained somewhat of a mystery to me because he was so quiet.  I was only seventeen so my perspective was really limited.  The only conversation I remember was him being somewhat put off by my wearing pants to the ice rink, he reminded me that it wasn't proper attire for women.
 
The California Death Index lists his birthplace as Oklahoma, his death place as Contra Costa Co., his mother's maiden name as Daniels.

This man was 28, lived in Oakland, and attended the Oakland church.

(Sept. 28, 1938 - May 21, 1967), self-inflicted gunshot

[submitted by a Vicki P.]

7-26-2009

 

Links below updated Sept, 2011

Links To Sites That Try To Help

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

SPAN (Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network)

SPAN, a non profit, 501(C)(3) organization, is dedicated to the creation of an effective national suicide prevention strategy. SPAN links the energy
of those bereaved by suicide with the expertise of leaders in science, business, government and public service to achieve the goal of significantly reducing the national rate of suicide by the year 2010.

Suicide Prevention

 

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn't mean that help isn't wanted. Most people who commit suicide don't want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

Lollie Dot Com

Most people who contemplate committing suicide are ambivalent, undecided or another way to put it is that they're "teetering"between doing it and not doing it. Imagine a big refrigerator sitting on a porch. How easy is it to move? Not very. But if it's on one edge teetering... now how easy is it to tip it either way?

 

Suicide Prevention Directory

The purpose of the National Suicide Prevention Directory (NSPD) is to provide the public with a central source of contact information for suicide prevention organizations committed to providing educational and counseling programs aimed at long term suicide prevention action.

Information Needed

I would like to compile as much information as I can on the subject. As much detail as possible would be helpful, such as; how old was the person when they started to attend, what calendar year did they start attending, what church area, who pastored their area, did both parents attend, did they get jobs inside or outside the church, did his (her) family situation change due to finances or divorce, what was the person's level of formal education, how were the survivors treated after the tragedy?

This is important to me. It may take a while to compile enough verifiable information to write about the topic, but hopefully the results will be worth the effort. Perhaps some of the guilt and shame being suffered by the parents of these suicide victims will be rightfully replaced with outrage towards those who created this emotionally intolerable environment in the first place; namely, our so-called spiritual "leaders."    

Thank you for your consideration in this matter,

Sincerely,
Dana
mmessmer@olypen.com

 

 

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