mental health, religion, tragedies

Switzerland and Utah have more in common than beautiful mountain views…

This post has to do with mass suicide. If you think you might be triggered, you might want to move on to your next Internet station.

The New York Times‘ headline said “4 Die After Falling From Balcony in Swiss Resort Town”. I was instantly curious, since I’ve heard the Swiss are even more anal retentive about safety and precision than the Germans are. Before I read the article, I said to Bill, “Someone is going to get sued into oblivion for this.” I said that because the headline made it sound like negligence was involved and I just assumed that a lovely family had plunged to their deaths because a balcony gave way. The strange truth was, this tragedy had nothing to do with a builder’s or safety inspector’s negligence. Apparently, these four people died on purpose. A fifth person remains hospitalized in serious condition.

The small group of people who died yesterday in Montreux, a beautiful resort town in western Switzerland near idyllic Lake Geneva, were not publicly identified in the article. However, the police believe they were French nationals and members of the same family, consisting of a 40 year old man, his 41 year old wife, his wife’s twin sister, and their 8 year old daughter. The couple’s 15 year old son somehow managed to survive the plunge from the seventh floor apartment from which they all apparently jumped.

When the article was published, the police were still trying to determine exactly what led up to the circumstances leading to this family’s fall from their balcony. According to the story, two police officers had knocked on the family’s door at about 7am. The officers were there to give the parents a summons involving the homeschooling of one of the children. Homeschooling is legal in Switzerland, but children who are homeschooled are still required to be routinely monitored by officials to determine their educational progress. When parents are out of touch with officials, police officers are tasked with issuing summonses. Evidently, this family was not allowing their homeschooled child to be checked.

After they knocked on the door, the police officers heard a voice from inside the apartment, asking them to identify themselves. Then, there was silence. As the officers were about to leave the building, a witness had called the police to inform them that people had fallen from a seventh floor balcony. A neighbor of the family’s stated that the family was very “discreet”. That makes me think that there was something weird going on, even before the adults apparently decided that suicide en masse was the answer to their problems.

I read some of the comments regarding this piece, and one lady posted that this story reminded her of an incident that happened in Salt Lake City Utah in 1978. Her comment is below.

This sounds like an instance in the 1970s involving a family who came to be known as “The Leaping Longos” after a mother and her seven children all jumped out of their hotel room window. It turned out that the father had killed himself the day before and their mother forced them all to jump in some weird type of suicide pact. They were practicing their own brand of religion based on the Mormon church and the father was also evading the authorities. 

This family likely all jumped to their deaths as well, but only after the authorities showed up. The authorities were only trying to establish what was happening with the children due to them being home schooled but it is very likely that they had something else to hide. Fortunately one son has survived, and once he’s able to talk about what happened I’m sure the full story will unfold.

The poor kid has become an orphan and I hope he’s able to recover because it would be even more tragic if he’s permanently impaired.

I was around in 1978, but I was a young child at the time. Obviously, I had never heard of the “Leaping Longos” before I read the above comment. I decided to look them up to see if there was any information about this family. Sure enough, I found the story after a couple of minutes of looking. Here’s a link to a 1993 era article by Deseret News about the lone survivor of the Utah incident. In that case, the lone survivor was a fifteen year old girl. Like the rest of her family, Longo changed her name; in the Deseret article she is called Rachel David.

On August 3, 1978, the David family (originally identified as the Longo family) made the bizarre decision to leap from an eleventh floor balcony at the International Dune Hotel in Salt Lake City. The family had been living in the hotel for about a year, when the patriarch, 39 year old Immanuel David (originally named Charles Bruce Longo), committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Three days after the suicide, 38 year old Rebecca David and her seven children either jumped or were thrown from the balcony. The lone survivor, Rachel, spent many months in a hospital before she was placed in foster care. She was wheelchair bound in 1993, when she was interviewed by the hosts of the television tabloid show, Inside Edition.

In 1993, Rachel David still believed that her father was God and would be returning to Earth. She also said that she had willingly jumped. She also said that she had been trying to follow the suicide order and, as of 1993, had attempted to kill herself many times. Another article, circa 2000, describes the survivor as “brain damaged”. At the time that article was written, Rachel David was still living with “remnants” of the House of David near Denver, Colorado.

Below is a screenshot of a news article that was written in 1978, just after this event took place.

Freaky story… I wonder if this French family was involved in a similar cult.

And here is a broadcast news item about the 1978 Utah incident…

I can’t even imagine how horrifying this was to witness…

Why do these culty types always gravitate to the name “Immanuel”? Especially when they have ties to Mormonism? According to the news report, David was an excommunicated member of the LDS church. The father was not employed at the time of his death, although according to the video, the bill for the $95 a day was paid on time and in cash, usually with $100 bills. The news story is astonishing, as the physician is very openly talking about the surviving girl’s injuries. We didn’t have HIPAA in those days.

As I listen to this surprisingly lengthy report, I’m confused by the discrepancies in the people’s names. According to the news article, the father’s name was Charles Bruce Longo, but this news report refers to him as Bruce David Longo. And then he changed his name, and all of the names of his wife and children were changed.

As for the French family in Switzerland, slightly more news has emerged about their apparently sudden and bizarre exit from Earth. Apparently, the mother in the French family was a dentist who had worked in Paris. Her sister was an ophthalmologist. The father worked at home. The family had been living in Switzerland for some time, and had residence status. The Daily Mail offers an article with some rather salacious details omitted from the more respectable newspaper articles. Apparently, the family used incense a lot, and ordered many packages. It will be interesting to learn more about why this tragedy occurred, and if this family has anything else in common with the “Leaping Longos” of Salt Lake City.

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LDS

“Re-education” is creepy…

Recently, I became a fan of Mr. Atheist’s YouTube channel. Mr. Atheist, aka Jimmy Snow, puts out high quality videos about religious wingnuts. He’s done quite a few about Lori Alexander, aka “The Transformed Wife”. I have written a few posts about her myself, although I think most of them are on the original blog. Lori Alexander, for those who don’t know, is a woman who writes blog posts and makes videos about the role of Christian women. For example, she thinks women should stay home and raise children instead of working outside of the home. As I write this, I’m listening to one Jimmy Snow did about Lori Alexander several months ago.

I wouldn’t know… I don’t pay much attention to Twitter, and if I did, I would pay any attention to Lori’s…

I think Mr. Atheist is bright and entertaining. Sometimes, he’s even funny. As an ex Mormon, Mr. Atheist is especially qualified to opine about ex Mormon bloggers and YouTubers. I happened to catch one he did about a YouTube content creator calling herself MonsonSchoolhouse. This is a very blonde Mormon lady with several children who makes videos about homeschooling. I haven’t watched much of the original incarnations of her videos, mainly because it’s not a topic that interests me on a personal level. I don’t have children, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t homeschool them. I’m also not LDS and definitely never would be.

But, because Mr. Atheist was raised LDS, he knows all about it. And he watched MonsonSchoolhouse’s video and provided the following commentary on it.

Damn… she is so blonde…

I did watch the above video, and in it, I noticed that MonsonSchoolhouse says that she no longer has to “re-educate” her children when they come home from school. She says that because they are closed off from influences that might cause them to stray from her LDS principles, they are better off. I couldn’t help but think of another use of the term “re-education“. Before I listened to MonsonSchoolhouse talking about the wonders of homeschooling her children and controlling her children’s indoctrination, the only other time I heard about “re-education” was regarding harsh camps where disobedient people were sent to be taught the “right” way to think and behave. Right now, they exist in China, where Muslims are being sent to have their “thoughts transformed”.

I have heard about them in other places, such as Vietnam and North Korea. They’re not nice places to be. They tend to be prisons, where unlucky inmates are “persuaded” to change their views or else. I wonder if MonsonSchoolhouse knows anything about that as she talks about “re-educating” her kids after they’ve been in school.

I know a lot of parents believe their children are “theirs” to do with whatever they want. They feel it’s their responsibility to “train ’em up” right. Some parents, particularly those involved in strict religions, actually kind of run their families like a mini cult. I don’t know if that’s how this mom runs her family… but I do think that using words like “re-education” kind of make me conjure up visions of people being forced to think a certain way… or face dire consequences.

I’m really glad my parents gave me the freedom to do a lot of what I wanted when I was growing up. I could read whatever I wanted, study any subjects that interested me, watch the movies and TV shows I wanted, and basically learn whatever I could before I became an adult. Although I was forced to go to church when I was growing up, I’m glad they chose a fairly liberal, mainstream church that valued educated leaders and embraced science. Whenever I hear the stories of children raised in strict religious belief systems and the “catching up” a lot of them have to do once they become adults, I’m glad I wasn’t in that kind of family system. I won’t say I’m not fucked up on any level because I think most people are to some extent. But I definitely could have been a lot more fucked up than I am… I look at how my husband’s daughters were raised and what they’re having to overcome, and I realize how lucky I was.

I don’t think shielding children from the world is the best way to teach them or help them grow up. Eventually, they will have to function in the real world. Being able to recite vast passages from the Book of Mormon is not likely to help those kids pay their bills… unless, of course, they manage to find a job working for the church. And, in my opinion, preventing those kids from associating with people who aren’t like them is also not the best way to prepare them for the world. Eventually, they will run into people from different places with different ideas and different appearances. Instead of being able to consider those differences and draw their own conclusions, they’re liable to hear their mother’s voice saying that different ways are “not correct”.

Personally, I think homeschooling can be a bad idea, anyway. I won’t say it’s always a bad idea. I know some people who invest the time and effort into doing it right. In fact, Bill and I know a couple who homeschooled all seven of their children and they’re all pretty brilliant. But I also know that Bill’s ex wife supposedly “homeschooled” Bill’s daughters, mainly as a means of controlling them and preventing others from influencing them. And though both have managed to get into college and one has even graduated, they missed out on a lot. They have succeeded in spite of Ex’s efforts, rather than because of them.

I noticed on Mr. Atheist’s video about the Mormon homeschooling mom, a German commenter was flabbergasted, since homeschooling is pretty much forbidden here. Frankly, I kind of agreed with what the commenter said– that most people really shouldn’t be trying to teach their children alone. It’s kind of like a doctor treating his or her own family. But then… I can’t say that all homeschooling is disastrous, because I know it’s not. It works well in some families. I think the ones that are most successful are the ones who don’t do it for religious reasons.

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