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The Flint Journal, Flint, Michigan

Have Scientology Practices Led to Suicide tries?

April 3, 1983


It is not uncommon for present or former Scientology members to try to kill themselves, according to three national experts on the controversial religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard.

The head of the Scientology Church In Michigan, however, denies that Scientology practices have led to suicides.

And the president of the international Church of Scientology, the Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, headquartered in Los Angeles, dismisses the experts quoted in this story as "liars," who he says are out to discredit a growing religion that he claim has helped millions of people with their problems.

Boston attorney Michael J. Flynn, interviewed on national television and by national magazines about his 20 lawsuits against the church; said he knows of at least 10 documented Scientology suicides or suicide attempts nationwide.

Flynn said one of the Hubbard's sons, Quentin, appears to have killed himself In 1976 in Las Vegas.

"The general pattern is that the church processing, the purification rundown, the auditing process, leave a person with a mental void that is filled with Scientology non- sense;" Flynn said.

"THAT CAUSES a gradual deterioration of their ability to perceive reality," he said. "Many members quit jobs, school, they stop managing their affairs well, they become more removed from reality.

"This becomes a vicious circle that often leads to a point where nothing is left. They finally reach a point where they are confronted with nothing but blackness, no idea where they are going to turn, and sometimes they kill themselves."

One of the suicides listed by Flynn was a recent one by a 13-


"Jentzsch said the suicide rate among women doctors is three times the national average for women." year-old boy from Los Angeles who spent several-years in an "Apple School," a private school that has been described as a Scientology educational front.

"His attorney told me that the boy's father said the kid was destroyed by Scientology's brainwashing routines," Flynn said "The kid had the mind of an 8-year-old."

Michelle Sudz, president of the Michigan Church of Scientology, denied that Scientology's practices have led to suicides or suicide attempts.

"That's a bunch of garbage" she added.

Sudz said she has no knowledge of suicide attempts by Scientolo- gists. And she added that the mental health profession itself has a high suicide rate.

JENTZSCH SAID much the same thing, although he did not answer questions about how many suicides he is aware of among church members.

"There are higher death rates in mental institutions than in the Spanish Civil War, the (American) Civil War and the Korean War com- bined," he said. "Why isn't some one investigating that situation?"

Jentzsch said the suicide rate among women doctors is three times the national average for women as a group, and said the trouble with Scientology critics is that they do not examine the statistical evidence surrounding suicides and Scientology.

"The most problems (with suicides or attempts) we have found are where psychiatry or psychology has gotten them first," he said. "It is difficult to help them after the brutality of those professions."

The Philadelphia Daily News carried a story in December about a young man, James Hester, who took Scientology courses in Florida.

HESTER, WHO the Daily News said was pursuing a career in the oil industry, tried to kill himself by driving his car into a tree in Miami. He is now brain-damaged, crippled and blind and living in an Arkansas nursing home.

Hester left this suicide note betore he took his ill-fated drive:

"I have taken what I consider to be the most expedient way out of my present predicament. I harbor no resentment against anyone, except the Church of Scientology. They have a great deal to do with my demise. To play with people's defense mechanisms in the manner that they do is a criminal thing at best. I hope they can be outlawed."

Dr. John E. Clark Jr. is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Recognized as one of the countrys experts on cult mind control techniques, he frequently appears as an expert witness in lawsuits against Scientology and other religions.

Clark told The Journal that a person does not have to be mentally ill to be threatened by cult methods.

"Cults all too often lead to disaster," he said. "Their methods usually result in the shattering of the mind, resulting in a real pyschosis that sometimes leads to a threatening-kind of depression."

SUICIDE ATTEMPTS are not uncommon among cult members, he said.

"It is possible that this state (of depression) could bring a person to the point of suicide," he said. "There appears to be a significant increase (among cult members) in the danger of falling into a pit of depression and then into suicide."

Clark said it disturbs him that cults tend to take credit for what they call their successes, but ignore their failures.

"They tend to be very careless," he said.

Jentzsch was extremely critical of both Flynn and Clark. He described them as irresponsible critics attacking religion through a corporation he said Flynn has established, Flynn , Associates Management Corp. He also claimed that officials from the Justice Department and the FBI have been involved in those efforts.

Flynn said Jentzsch has repeatedly made an issue of this alleged company, even though it was a proposal made three years ago but never implemented.

The company, Flynn said, was proposed by his brother to act as consultants and investigators for lawsuits against the Scientology Church, but he said the idea was rejected by him and most of the other lawyers who would have been involved.

Jentzsch charged that Flynn has attempted to "extort at least $1.6 million" from the church in return for a promise to drop all present and future suits

Flynn denies that charge, claiming the "extortion" allegation was made in the process of coming to an out-of-court settlement that totaled $1.6 million, which Flynn said the Church of Scientology paid a dozen of his clients.

He said the church filed both a lawsuit and a bar association complaint about that allegation, and he said that both complaints were dismissed for being without rnerit.

A FORMER Scientologist, Ford Schwartz, said his wife, Andrea, tried to commit suicide when both were members of we religion in 1977. Schwartz was a member for nine years and deprogrammed himself while spying on anti-cult groups nationwide.

For the last year, the couple [considered] lawsuits against the Scientology Church, but he said the idea was rejected by him and most of the other lawyers who would have been involved.

[Note by lermanet2.com the paragraph above is exactly as written in the original article..I added word [considered]]

Jentzsch charged that Flynn has attempted to "extort at least $1.6 million" from the church in return for a promise to drop all present and future suits.

Flynn denies that charge, claiming the "extortion" allegation was made in the process of coming to an out-of-court settlement that totaled $1.6 million, which Flynn said the Church of Scientology paid a dozen of his clients.

He said the church filed both a lawsuit and a bar association complaint about that allegation, and he said that both complaints were dismissed for being without merit.

A FORMER Sclentologist, Ford Schwartz, said his wife, Andrea, tried to commit suicide when both were members of the religion in 1977. Schwartz was a member for nine years and deprogrammed himself while spying on anti-cult groups nationwide.

For the last year, the couple have been working against the church, acting as consultants for people who want to "deprogram" family members who have joined the church.

Schwartz said Andrea was second-in-command of the Washingion, D.C., branch in 1977. One week she did not meet her assigned goal of raising at least $40,000 for the church, and she was physically beaten for that failure, he said.

He said four men then dragged her upstairs, kicking and screaming, to be locked into a room where she underwent hours of interrogation about her personal life. Church officials then pronounced her as "evil." he said.

She finally escaped from her confinement and spent hours wandering the streets, praying that she would be killed by a car because she was convinced she-was beyond help from Scientology, he said.

ACCORDING TO Schwartz, it took him eight months to convince his wife her life was worth living.

Jentzsch countered that the person responsible for that incident has since been expelled from the church (for apparently unrelated reasons) and that, if it indeed happened as Schwartz described it, it would have been against church policy.

Schwartz said he later participated in a coverup operation in an attempt to prevent a suit from being filed in the case of a young woman who tried to commit suicide.

"They (Scientology officials) had gotten all her money, about $40,000, and she knew that auditing was destroying her mind," he said. "After they got her money, they told her that she was evil and she didn't know what to do, so she tried to kill herself by shooting herself on the left side of her chest -- she thought she was aiming at her heart.

"All she did was blow a big hole in her shoulder and she ended up in a mental institution, where I went to see her to make certain she didn't file any suit against the church. I heard her whole sad story.

"I was sickened by the whole thing."

Vitamins, Minerals, and scientology literature found in home of [suicide victim] Dr Jane Lord Smith

[IMAGE: Vitamins, minerals and Scientology literature found in the home of Dr Jane Lord Smith]


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