Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marie Osmond's Son Michael Blosil Commits Suicide After Lifelong Struggle With Depression

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can confer a considerable degree of protection against the effects of adversity, particularly if one remains a faithful member of Church, keeping their covenants. However, LDS Church membership does NOT confer absolute immunity against adversity; indeed, immunity against adversity would actually violate one of the fundamental purposes of mortality, which is to experience both good and evil in a probationary environment where one has the opportunity to repent. Mortality is considered a crucial step towards celestial glory with exaltation and ultimate godhood.

Adversity has touched the lives of the family of Marie Osmond, who by all accounts, remains a faithful member of the Church despite becoming a celebrity. On February 27th, 2010, the Deseret News reports that one of Marie Osmond's children, 18-year-old Michael Blosil, committed suicide after jumping from a downtown Los Angeles apartment. Blosil reportedly left a note behind referring to his lifelong battle with depression and feeling like he had no friends and would never fit in. But although it does appear to be a suicide, Brian Elias of the Los Angeles Coroner's Office said the death is under investigation.

Through her publicist, Marie Osmond said, "My family and I are devastated and in deep shock by the tragic loss of our dear Michael and ask that everyone respect our privacy during this difficulty time".

Michael Blosil reportedly struggled with depression. In November 2007, he entered rehab shortly after his father Brian Blosil and Marie Osmond announced in March 2007 their impending divorce after 21 years of marriage. At the time, Osmond released a statement regarding her son, saying, "My son Michael is an amazing young man, shown through his courage in facing his issues. As his mother, I couldn't be more proud of him". It appeared in March 2009 that Michael seemed to be turning his life around; he was living with his mother in Las Vegas while he finished his senior year of high school with a 3.9 GPA and Marie starred in the "Donny & Marie" show at the Flamingo Hotel. The Blosil-Osmond couple had eight children total; two biological children together, as well as five adopted children, including including Michael. Brian Blosil also adopted Marie Osmond's child from her first marriage.

The Donny and Marie Show currently headlining at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas has been indefinitely suspended as of Saturday night. Other media stories about this event published by ETOnline, the Los Angeles Times, E! Online, and People Magazine.

Official LDS Church Attitude Towards Suicide: Anti-Mormons have taken statements by some Church leaders in the past out of context to misrepresent the Church's attitude towards suicide. They make it sound as if the Church looks upon suicides as "losers" and "second-class Saints". The fact is, nothing can be further from the truth. In this October 1987 Ensign Magazine article, M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote the following:

The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed what many Church leaders have taught: “Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.” (Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 771.)

Thus it is left in the hands of the bereaved family how to memorialize the departure of a loved one via suicide. Suicides do NOT have their Church membership or endowments posthumously revoked. It is amazing how so many anti-Mormons have a higher regard for the Journal of Discourses than they do for the actual Standard Works.

Understanding Depression: One of the most difficult things for us to understand is how depression impacts people. Those of us who know or live with someone with depression can get impatient and lash out at such people, telling them to "suck it up" or "snap out of it". Unless we've experienced depression ourselves, we cannot grasp the all-encompassing debilitating effect; it literally "takes over your entire life".

By Common Consent has published some short accounts by those suffering from depression. Here are two of the more informative examples:

Beatrice: When I’m depressed, it is hard for me to live up to my basic family responsibilities–i.e., getting out of bed, feeding people, doing the laundry, etc.–much less all the nurturing I’m supposed to be doing–whether it’s playing with the kids or supporting them in their various activities or being affectionate in general. I don’t want to nurture anyone–I want them to nurture me, or better yet, just leave me alone. I’m very anti-social when I’m depressed, and I don’t want to be around other people, even the people I love. (Sometimes the love is only theoretical, when I’m depressed enough.) I resent their demands on me and I resent whatever I think I should be doing, if I were a good mother and wife, and I feel guilty, and then I resent feeling guilty. In short, I am unpleasant to be around, and the household runs much less smoothly. I’m perfectly aware of the negative effect my behavior and mood have on everyone around me, and up to a point that awareness can help me function or at least fake it, but there always comes a point where apathy takes over. I know my behavior is destructive, but I just don’t care anymore. I’m too tired. And I feel guilty, but it doesn’t matter because nothing changes. And eventually I don’t even feel guilty anymore. I just know intellectually that I’m guilty. But so what?

Currently I’m in the middle of a very bad depressive episode–so I don’t have the mental focus to contribute the way I could when I was feeling less crazy. But I am right as of this minute simply marveling at how disengaged with reality I can be, knowing that I’m disengaged with reality and still not being able to re-engage reality. As I get older I get more sympathy and even respect for my mother, who I resented so much when I was younger because of the instability–what a word–no, not instability–really, really bad and frightening spirits that were in our home because of her mental illness. I watch myself doing the same exact thing to my own children and I’m so, so sorry about it but at the same time helpless because if I could stop it, I would. My mother would come out of a horrible rage episode and apologize profusely and tearfully, and I would think to myself, “Well, it’s all well and good that you’re sorry, but why can’t you just be different?” Seriously, if this is God’s twisted method of teaching me compassion, I TOTALLY GET IT NOW, THANK YOU.

Rosencrantz: When I was at my worst, I had difficulty even getting out of bed, and I didn’t even have the ability to feel guilty. The only things I felt were apathy and pain. Not a good thing when you are the provider for a wife and children. I’ll just say it quickly and bluntly: I lost my job and we had to sell our house and move because I couldn’t keep it together. So it was a horrible experience for my wife and for our kids. I’m still a little surprised she didn’t divorce me, and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had.

Looking back, my wife and children were about as understanding and patient and kind as I could have possibly hoped, and that was a blessing. The aftermath has been a challenge, because I still feel really guilty, and I still haven’t been able to metabolize the experience yet. Sometimes I fear that this is just a temporary calm period and that I’ll repeat the whole damned process again.

Notice that when people finally "conquer" depression, there's always that residual fear that it could return, almost without notice. It's quite literally hell on earth. So a person who commits suicide as a result of chronic depression merits NO condemnation.

No comments: