Sect counseling sometimes even turns into life-saving

Fewer people seeing to increasing number of occult fans in Saxony

Suicide clubs gaining momentum among young people

Leipzig, Germany
February 19, 2001
Leipziger Volkszeitung

by Anna Lehmann

Leipzig. It is early morning and Solveig Prass is already busy. The staff worker at the sect and cult counseling center is still chilled from the events of the previous day. She lights up a cigarette, then explains why. A girl tried to kill herself in her office. Suicide is currently "in" among certain groups of young people. Suicide clubs have gained momentum. They are treated in counseling centers the same as cults.

Solveig Prass told us about internet forums which advertise group suicide. She opens up a folder which contains the signatures of people in some of these suicide forums. We can see letterhead reading "Die blauen Rosen," then she closes the folder. The records are not publicly accessible and the chatroom conversations can be entered only with a password. "We have our methods of finding out what goes on there," the advisor smiles conspiratorially. The counseling center plans on releasing a brochure about that club this Spring.

The greater part of her day is usually spent doing research on sects and cult movements, the rest of the time she spends counseling relatives of cult members, arranging contacts with psychiatrists and lawyers, and she also gives lectures in schools. Solveig Prass is the only regular sect counselor in Saxony. She is asking for more help not because she works 16 hours a day, but because of the necessity for better counseling; she describes the efforts in the Commonwealth as a "joke."

In contrast to that Chaplain Gerald Kluge regards the counseling and information system as sufficient. He is one of the two official advisors who provides information in Saxony about sects on commission of the Church. Kluge offers information worldwide via the internet from the Meissen Bishopric. On his home page one finds information on the 25 sects which are active in Saxony, as well as on occultism and Satanism. Perhaps Satanism has gained a little momentum with the young people, Kluge states carefully, but they're in it more for the titillation. "Generally speaking, sect adherents form only a small stagnant minority in Saxony," he adds. Surveys of young people given on behalf of the Saxon Ministry of Culture have confirmed that 90 percent of the 15-30 year age group keep their distance from occult practices. To be sure the figures date from 1997. There were no inquiries after that. As a rule, adherents of the satanic practices are conspicuous only when they conduct animal sacrifices or disturb graves. Desecrating graves is not explicitly mentioned by the State Criminal Investigation office, it falls under material damages.

Solveig Prass does not share the calm attitude of her colleague. From her counseling office she comes upon a new case of psychic dependency every day. "You only see the tip of the iceberg. The real figures are far above what I see."