Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010:
Last week, Todd Ransom, a 28 year-old gay man from Orem, Utah, committed suicide.
While it is unclear why exactly Ransom took his life, friends report that he struggled to reconcile his sexual orientation with his Mormon upbringing.
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There have been few reports of Ransom’s death in the media. Local news outlets have published only brief accounts from when Ransom’s body was discovered July 19.
But in a website memorial launched this weekend, Ransom’s family released this statement:
“Our beloved son, brother and friend took his own life at Battle Creek Canyon near Pleasant Grove, Utah after a long and painful battle with depression.
Some people have said that Todd ended his life because he was gay or felt persecuted by the LDS Church and his family, but this is not true. We loved him unconditionally. We were always there for him.
Todd attempted suicide previously and we know from that experience that his manic depression was a constant thorn in his side and that there were other factors that influenced his suicide. Todd didn’t always agree with us or want to share his life with us, but he was loved by us. That is the undeniable truth.”
Ransom’s death has fueled new debate about suicide among gay Mormons.
Utah bloggers have written that this is the third gay suicide in Utah this month, all of which have been largely ignored by local news outlets — David Standley, 21 of Ogden, took his life on June 30, and Weber State University student Tim Tilley, 20, killed himself on July 11.
And according to the Deseret News, a LDS owned and cultured newspaper:
– Every 11 days a Utah teen commits suicide
– Utah leads the nation in suicide among men 15-24
– Utah has the 11th highest overall suicide rate in the nation
– Suicide is the #1 cause of death among Utah teens
Last year, Ransom signed up to participate in Reed Cowan’s film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, a documentary that chronicled the Mormon Church’s involvement in the passage of California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage.
According to Cowan, Ransom left inexplicably before he could appear in front of the camera.
But the memorial website goes beyond speculation, and explains with much candor, Ransom’s life and struggles:
“Our lives changed when Todd announced to his family in 2001 that he was gay. Thus began the difficult dance that takes place between a faithful Mormon family and a much-loved son and brother who chooses to live a gay lifestyle.
It was difficult for his parents to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, and this hurt Todd in ways that his parents did not intend. On the other hand, in spite of his upbringing in the LDS Church, Todd insisted that family members affirm his sexuality in ways that put them at odds with their conscience and beliefs.
Todd was very hurt when his parents felt that they could not attend his commitment ceremony with Jake Jacquez, his partner of eight years, however he and Jake were both welcome in our home.”
Ransom was born July 11, 1982 in Princeton, New Jersey. He grew up in Tucson, Arizona and Orem, Utah. He graduated with honors from the University of Utah in May 2009, earning a BS degree in biomedical engineering.
Friends say Ransom left behind a note reading “Sunrise – Accept This Offering.”
A candlelight vigil was held last Tuesday evening on the steps of the Utah state capital. Photos at David Daniels Photography.
With thanks to Laurie Beth’s Grotto for calling our attention to the memorial website.