Tony Ortega loves it when a Scientologist commits suicide.
He jumps all over every Scientology suicide he hears about. He even blames Scientology mothers for their daughter’s suicide. It’s where Tony Ortega’s cruelty against Scientologists who have nothing to do with the abuses in Scientology really shines.
Ortega recently published an article on his blog about yet another Scientology suicide.
Because Tony has this running theme on his blog, we here at AlanzosBlog decided to reach out to him with an important question about Scientology and suicide.
There is one way to tell if Tony Ortega is being fair and unbiased to Scientologists by publicizing Scientology suicides and blaming Scientology for it. Does he know what the suicide rate of the general population is, and then can he compare that suicide rate to the rate of Scientology suicide?
Watch Sociology Professor Emeritus Eileen Barker of the London School of Economics explain why this is important (the video starts mid-sentence at 03 min. 24 secs – keep watching for her point about ‘cults’ and suicide)
If Tony Ortega and Leah Remini want to be objective and fair to Scientology (and who says they do?) they would need to step back and adopt this wider perspective to claim that Scientology causes people to commit suicide. As they repeatedly insinuate.
So we reached out to Tony Ortega with a Tweet this morning:
We’ll let you know if he decides to get back with us.
So far his response rate is worse than Karen Pouw’s.
8 thoughts on “A Question for Tony Ortega & Leah Remini Regarding Scientology Suicide”
“If the rate of Scientology suicides is lower than the general population would you be intellectually honest enough to give Scientology credit for reducing the risk of suicide?”
If Ortega were to concede your point, it would merely mean that the proprietors of both The Underground Bunker and AlanzosBlog are ignorant of the principle that correlation does not imply causation. If involvement in Scientology is correlated with decreased risk of suicide that does not mean that the first variable caused the second. It could also mean that a third variable is causing both, which is why (in our hypothetical scenario) both variables are co-occuring in many individuals.
The fundamental purpose of my question to Tony and Leah – who have both blamed Scientology as the cause of multiple suicides – was to present a scenario where Tony Ortega or Leah Remini would give Scientology credit for ANYTHING positive at all, including breathing air correctly.
If the rate of suicide is lower in Scientology than it is in the Anglican Church, then that should be known every time someone wants to blame Scientology for causing someone to kill themselves.
Without those facts, they would be engaging in the cruelest and most thoughtless speculation – as they have done now repeatedly.
They are two very classy people in this way.
“The fundamental purpose of my question to Tony and Leah – who have both blamed Scientology as the cause of multiple suicides – was to present a scenario where Tony Ortega or Leah Remini would give Scientology credit for ANYTHING positive at all, including breathing air correctly.”
But why in the first place would your hypothetical scenario be a reason to give Scientology positive credit for anything? Correlation does not imply causation, therefore a scenario in which the suicide rate of Scientologists is lower than that of the general population does not have to mean that involvement in Scientology decreases the risk of suicide.
“If the rate of suicide is lower in Scientology than it is in the Anglican Church, then that should be known every time someone wants to blame Scientology for causing someone to kill themselves.”
This hypothetical scenario would not necessarily contradict the idea that Scientology increases the risk of suicide. There are cases in which: 1) a certain population which is defined by a specific trait (which I’ll refer to as variable A) has a lower incidence of a different trait (which I’ll call variable B) than that which exists other populations. 2) Despite of the aforementiond condition, the occurence of variable A in a given individual still increases the odds of variable B co-occuring in the same person. Here’s an interesting case of this phenomenon mentioned on wikipedia:
“For example, in a widely studied case, numerous epidemiological studies showed that women taking combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) also had a lower-than-average incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), leading doctors to propose that HRT was protective against CHD. But randomized controlled trials showed that HRT caused a small but statistically significant increase in risk of CHD. Re-analysis of the data from the epidemiological studies showed that women undertaking HRT were more likely to be from higher socio-economic groups (ABC1), with better-than-average diet and exercise regimens. The use of HRT and decreased incidence of coronary heart disease were coincident effects of a common cause (i.e. the benefits associated with a higher socioeconomic status), rather than a direct cause and effect, as had been supposed.”
This takes us back to our discussion of a scenarion in which Scientologists have lower suicide rates than that of other populations. Such a scenario would not disprove the possibility that Scientology increases the risk of suicide in an individual. There could be a scenario in which the following condition co-exist: 1) People with tendencies towards suicidal thoughts and acts tend to be less attracted to Scientology than they are to Anglicanism. 2) Once a suicidal person joins Scientology, his inclinations toward suicide increase due to something inherent in Scientology. In this scenario Scientology has less suicides than other religions as less suicidal people join it, but once a suicidal person does join it the chances of him/her deciding to end his/her life increase. To be perfectly clear, this is a hypothetical scenario and might not be true. I’m merely describing it as to show how a low suicide rate in Scientology would not necessaril disprove the idea that Scientology increases the risk for suicide.
Instead of talking about hypothetical statistics, let’s tackle a more interesting question; is there a reason to suppose that Scientology increases the risk of suicide at least in some individuals? I’d say that a good argument for this position was made by former Scientologist Sunny Pereira in the same Underground Bunker article to which this post responds:
“Sadly, she [a Clear who killed herself] was unable to get the help she needed because of being convinced somehow that Scientology had the answers.”
While I think that it would be best not to speculate as to causes of specific suicides, Pereira’s overall point is reasonable. In Scientology, underoging conventional psychiatry and psychotherapy is regarded as a mortal sin. The Scientologist who dares use such methods risks expulsion from his group and losing whatever status he gained there. It’s not unlikely that certain Scientologists who had wound up committing suicide would have not met such ends had they not been discouraged to seek psychiatric help. While I’m not going to blame Scientology for the suicide of any specific individual, I do think it’s fair to say that Scientology is probably not the best place to be in if your suffering from clinical mental distress.
I appreciate your point, here, DTG. You make it well. You’ve taught me a little something here. Thank you for that.
But Sunny’s point assumes something that a lot of Ex-Scientologists and never-ins fall for: That if only the Scientologist received the psych-based standard of care they needed, they would not have committed suicide.
No psych-based suicide prevention regimen ever stopped a suicide which occured. And many times, those suicides occurred despite the best efforts of psych-based programs which tried to prevent them.
This is why you must compare the suicide rate of those who have access to psych-based suicide prevention programs to those who don’t, such as Scientologists, before you can claim – as Tony and Leah repeatedly do – that Scientology causes the Scientology suicides they promote.
The idea that anyone can get inside the head of anyone who decides to commit suicide, and then BLAME their mother or their religion for that suicide is absolutely outrageous – and compoundingly cruel to that suicide’s loved ones. Yet anti-scientology tribalism promotes that kind of cruelty repeatedly. Because who’s being harmed, after all, with their cruelty? Scientologists.
So good. They deserve it, right?
Ortega and his ilk clearly have no idea what the hell is going on when a Scientologist commits suicide, as these are isolated incidents and the exception rather than the rule. They make it appear as if there is an epidemic of suicide among Scientologists, which is quite rich coming from Ortega who has gone on the record to deny that a sex trafficking epidemic exists and that the allegations of criminal activity against Backpage are part of “mass hysteria” on the same level as the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and that the rape allegations against Paul Haggis are false and part of a Scientology orchestrated conspiracy. Total hypocrisy.
He does observe and speculate that there appears to be a correlation between the timing of the suicide of Kristin Bouck and the Suppressive Person declare against the South Coast Mission holder Kim Perry, nee Whitworth. Indeed, this is not a coincidence. Firstly, Missions are not supposed to be in the business of having someone attest to Clear and it appears that Bouck did in fact attest to Clear at the South Coast Mission. I have no idea if Miscavige is now allowing this to go on, but it wouldn’t surprise me as RTC is constantly changing things in a manner that suggests they are making things up as they go along in response to declining parishioner activity. The sudden announcement of Golden Age of Tech (GAT) Phase II, along with the “completion” of the Flag Building and the release of Super Power were all in direct response to the Garcia lawsuit, which was principally focused on exposing the Super Power fundraising project as a scam and money pit.
The release of Super Power and GAT Phase II was not supposed to happen in 2013 and based on what I’ve heard from staffers at CC and HGB, there was never a set date because the Super Power fundraisers were considered to have been the most profitable and lucrative way of extorting massive amounts of cash from not only the whales, but rank-and-file Scientologists and even Sea Org members themselves. I don’t think Ortega has even ever covered this aspect of the controversy, or the fact that Sea Org members who are known to management to have a lot of savings or trust funds have been increasingly subject to IAS, Ideal Org and Super Power fundraiser regging. I personally know of at least 32 young Sea Org members working at CC, ASHO and HGB who had their college and trust funds emptied under direct orders from their superiors. Based on my personal observations and interactions with rank-and-file Sea Org staffers, Dave Petit, CO of CC Int, has been the most aggressive in ordering CC staff with significant savings or trust funds to hand over all their cash to Int. Several of these staffers at CC, some of whom were minors at the time of these extortion attempts and some of whom are still underage, have been willing to go on the record about this and provide concrete material evidence if they could be guaranteed safe haven since they would obviously have to leave the Sea Org, risk disconnection from their families (who all grudgingly approved the transfer of funds under threat of heavy Ethics penalties), and they are all totally broke.
I attempted to share this data with Ortega and provide him with both their testimonies as well as all the evidence, as well as evidence of other misdeeds and misconduct culled from preclear, Ethics and personnel files, so long as he agreed to sign and have notarized non-disclosure and other legal agreements based on requirements set by these young staffers (some of whom are still minors) to protect themselves and have some assurance that they would receive help and legal assistance should Ortega publish this information or share it with media outlets. Furthermore, a number of them have expressed suicidal thoughts and have undergone heavy Ethics for threatening suicide and at least three of them were subjected to the Introspection Rundown at Big Blue, which supposedly hasn’t been used since the Lisa McPherson incident, which is completely false, at least as far as Sea Org members go. They may not be offering or administering it to publics, but Big Blue has “sick rooms” specifically for subjecting potential suicide cases to Introspection Rundown. Previously, CC staff underwent Introspection Rundown at the Bronson apartments across the street from CC, but this stopped after the CC, HGB, and ABLE EPFs were consolidated with the PAC EPF. This was only for young Sea Org staffers, most of whom are from prominent Scientologist families who they did not want to risk offloading because from management’s viewpoint that would potentially make things worse, as was the case with Alex Jentzsch and others who ended up becoming drug addicts after leaving staff. Older CC staff who suffered psychotic breaks or considered on the verge of suicide were sent to Narconon or similar types of Scientologist-run facilities, the most recent of which I’m familiar with is the case of Barbara who worked under Pamela Lancaster Johnson at CC.
He flat refused the first time around, claiming that being a “journalist” that “isn’t how it works” and he’d need more details before agreeing to anything. When I provided him with summaries of some of the data available in a lengthy email, he responded with a single line stating, “I’m willing to look at anything you can provide me,” which as far as I’m concerned is a non-sequitur cop-out. I have the emails to back this up and if he has any ounce of integrity he should come clean and release our exchange of unedited emails to demonstrate what an asshole he is.
If Ortega gave a rats ass about Scientologists and young underage Sea Org workers you’d think he’d have the decency to at least sign an NDA, especially since he has an “attorney,” Scott Pilutik, at his disposal. I’ve no idea if Pilutik is a legitimate lawyer or if he’s currently licensed to practice law, but his refusal to even accept the request of these young Sea Org staffers at CC for legal assistance and help in getting employment and housing after leaving staff reveals his true nature.
In the same email exchanges I informed Ortega that I had heard from these CC staffers that Mike Jones had suffered a nervous breakdown due to his parents billboard “campaign” which led to intense heavy Ethics penalties against him and that he was declared PTS Type III and sent to Big Blue to undergo Introspection Rundown, and that he should at least convey this information to his parents so that they could request the LAPD or LA Country Sheriff to conduct a welfare check to confirm his whereabouts and whether or not he was being subjected to Introspection at Big Blue (in the main Cedars of Lebanon building), he didn’t even acknowledge or bother to respond. Why Phil Jones continues to cooperate and support Ortega is beyond me because Ortega clearly only cares about Ortega. He has no genuine empathy or concern for anyone other than himself. If Ortega has not informed Mike Jones’s parents about these allegations and they turn out to be true and Mike Jones ends up committing suicide, his blood will be on Ortega’s hands. Did Phil Jones and his wife ever consider that their ill-conceived billboard “campaign” would invariably lead to their son being subjected to heavy Ethics and gangbang sec checks, which is standard operating procedure in such cases? They are both veteran Scientologists and know what the hell goes on behind the scenes.
Getting back to Kim Perry/Whitworth, the principal reason she was declared was due to outrageous mishandling of preclear cases she had no business or qualifications being involved with, as well as pressuring South Coast Mission staff to aggressively reg raw publics for services beyond the introductory variety (which is out of bounds for a Mission) and charging them for more than what those services cost and pocketing the excess cash. The entire South Coast Mission was in a state of Liability even before Kristin Bouck’s suicide. Their bread and butter, as with most other Missions, are Life Repair, Marriage Counseling and the Purification Rundown.
The Beverly Hills Mission, which was the most successfully and financially lucrative Mission since the demise of Bent Corydon’s Riverside County Mission in the early 1980s, made most of their profits from Life Repair auditing for wealthy businessmen, bored housewives and socialites, most of whom were not Scientologists and were only interested in very specific Life Repair actions. Unlike many other Missions like South Coast, however, BH Mission never ripped anyone off and everything they did was on the up and up as far as HCO policy. The reason Miscavige shut them down was due to the fact that they were sending auditors out to client’s homes, even out of state, as well as the fact that they did not aggressively reg their clients to become committed Scientologists or even require them to agree to KSW and thus BH Mission did not end up sending most of their clientele to CC Int, which is what they were supposed to do as Scientology Missions International (SMI) required Missions to routinely send preclears and students at some point to Class V orgs that they were assigned to. In the case of BH, they were a satellite Mission of CC Int.
Vanessa Stoller, who was the Mission Holder of the BH and Sherman Oaks Missions, who is a genuinely good and decent person, was royally screwed over by SMI under direct orders from Miscavige and after SMI was ordered to fire out a series of missions beginning in 2000, they took full administrative control, BH was shut down some years back because of heavy losses. SMI, also at the behest of Miscavige, also royally screwed over Keith Relkin, a veteran and openly gay Scientologist who singlehandedly refurbished and remodeled BH Mission, mostly of his own pocket because Vanessa Stoller was prohibited by SMI to help him out because he was continually subject to heavy Ethics penalties and one of those penalties was remodeling BH Mission at his own expense. Stoller did in fact reimburse him covertly, and when SMI found out, which led to Miscavige finding out, that also played a decisive role in SMI seizing control of the Mission and prohibiting Stoller from having any direct role in administration.
If I’m not mistaken, I believe Angry Gay Pope recorded a video of the interior of the BH Mission just before it was shut down. If you watch that video, everything you see in terms of interior design was all done by Keith Relkin. He had no help other than some minor assistance from a few of the Mission staffers every now and then. The whole time Relkin was there doing his remodeling work, I never saw him get upset or depressed or anything. He always had a smile on his face, even though he was being screwed left and right by SMI and CMO fanatic assholes. In spite of this, like Beghe, he was one of the most popular Scientologists among CC publics working in the entertainment industry. The Elfmans were the rare exception as Jenna and Bodhi have a total and absolute hatred of sexual minorities.
BH Mission was one of the few, if not only one of the only Missions to consistently pay all their staff minimum wage every week without fail plus bonuses and higher wages for long-term staff. Almost all of the veteran staff and auditors all made enough income to not have to work day jobs. As far as I know, no one from BH Mission committed suicide or suffered psychotic breaks while on lines there. After the SMI takeover, everything changed, as almost all of their preclear clientele —most of whom, as stated before, were not Scientologists and were not pressured by BH Mission staff to commit to Scientology, which is technically a violation of KSW —refused to continue services at CC Int, let alone flow cash up lines for the IAS, Super Power, and other such asinine fundraising scams.
This is a very important and key cultural element to understand and this is something Ortega clearly has no understanding of. Going from a Mission or Class V org to Flag invariably leads to a severe and massive culture shock. There is no way around it. The Brian Culkin case is a perfect textbook example, as is the case of Lisa McPherson, who I do not believe ever had suicidal tendencies or suffered from any psychiatric conditions prior to arriving at Flag and attesting to Clear while there. I used to believe that she did indeed have psychiatric issues prior to her involvement in Scientology, which is the narrative parroted by Tony Ortega, Mike Rinder, et al. But after examining all the information available, I no longer believe this was the case and that her psychiatric issues developed while at Flag.
In other words, I believe McPherson suffered a psychotic break not from Scientology in general, but specifically due to the way she was treated at Flag and how her case was grossly mishandled and of course being subjected to the Introspection Rundown. If she had never gone to Flag, I believe she would still be alive and would not have suffered a psychotic break. Obviously this is speculation on my part, but I don’t believe it can be denied that there is a correlation between Flag and Scientologists suffering from psychotic breaks while on lines there due to the sheer culture shock, extreme regging and oppressive atmosphere.
Again, Jason Beghe addresses these issues in his video, where he talks about Scientologists on the upper OT levels suffering from all sorts of mental and nervous breakdowns due to the 6-month checks and the Ls. He even outright states that it was the Ls that nearly drove him to the edge of insanity.
As with Lisa McPherson, there is nothing in Kristin Bouck’s background to suggest she ever had any psychiatric conditions, suicidal tendencies or self-destructive habits. If there was even a shadow of a doubt that this was the case, she would never have been allowed to attest to Clear and definitely not given approval to arrive at Flag. The qualifications to attend Flag since the Lisa McPherson incident have generally been very high, and after the Brian Culkin affair, the qualifications were raised even further because either Miscavige is unable or unwilling to get Flag staffers to back off all the abusive gangbang regging sessions. It’s bad enough at many, if not most Class V orgs, so Flag is worse by several orders of magnitude.
Ortega, Rinder, et al don’t know anything about Kristin Bouck and yet immediately jump to the conclusion that she must have had psychiatric issues or that Scientology processing drove her to suicide. This is totally inappropriate and irrational and they have not a single shred of fact to back such speculations. Based on the information we have available at the moment, she had no mental issues until arriving at Flag.
There appears to me to be a similar correlation between those on the upper OT levels (specifically OT III to OT VIII) and cancer as well as psychotic breaks. The qualifications to get approval to do the OT levels are so high now, and even higher for OT VIII that I don’t think 99.9% of Scientologists, no matter how fanatical and loyal to Int, will ever make it beyond Clear. For those approved to arrive at Flag, the big push since GAT Phase II has been Super Power rather than the OT levels and Ls. Every Flag World Tour since GAT Phase II has been about Super Power ad nauseum.
As a side note, CC has never been busier. The course rooms are not huge like at ASHO, but before GAT II students in the Academy course rooms were never packed in like sardines. Over the past couple of years I’ve directly observed Academy rooms (for theory study, not practicals) packed to the brim with almost every seat taken during peak hours, even during weekday mornings. The Purif and Survival Rundown (previously TRs and Objectives) areas have been busy as hell. But the Ethics area in the lower level, which used to be fairly dead prior to GAT II, has become increasingly busy to the point that there is a steady stream of at least a dozen of publics down there at any given time during peak hours. I’ve never seen the Ethics area at CC ever being that busy in previous years prior to beginning my observations and investigations of conditions at CC. It’s worse now than ever and the overall atmosphere at CC is oppressive and stifling. Most everyone at CC now are generational Scientologists as security has been significantly increased to the point that they routinely bring in additional security officers from HGB several times a month and most raw publics are being turned away as soon as they step foot on the driveway. They used to have open houses and community events regularly up until 2016 and now they don’t even allow non-Scientologists into the restaurant.
The situation at PAC is totally different and much less oppressive, but that could be because PAC orgs are dead and empty most of the time. AOLA and ASHO are like ghost towns even during peak hours.
The one thing CC and PAC service orgs share in common, though, is that they don’t have publics suffering psychotic breaks or having the kind of problems that most publics at Flag are subject to. Their major issues are behind the scenes with Sea Org staffers. There have never been so many married Sea Org couples at CC and PAC deliberately going out of their way to have children in order to get the hell out. At CC they’ve lost so many Sea Org members due to this that they don’t have enough to handle all the inflow of preclears and Academy students. The HGC is a fucking bureaucratic nightmare with preclears waiting around for hours just to get into session. None of them appear to be offing themselves out of frustration, but my guess from all the bitching and moaning going on there and in the Academy that this is why Public Ethics is so busy.
Make of all this what you will. But you’ll never hear about any of this from the likes of Rinder and Ortega, because they really don’t give a shit unless there’s something sensationalistic and extreme they can use to try to profit from, like suicides or taking pictures of elderly men doing Objective processes in public (which is a common sight in Hollywood and not rare as Ortega makes it out to be) and insulting them as “geezers.”
What the hell kind of journalist goes around posting pictures of rank-and-file Scientologists and making fun of them and calling them names? Ortega, Rinder and Remini really have no class, no ethics and certainly not a shred of decency and empathy. If they actually gave a rats ass about Scientologists, especially the rank-and-file that they claim are being subjected to criminal abuse, they wouldn’t behave the way they do.
There’s a term for people who act the way they do: assholes.
I’m tweeting this out, CC Watcher. Excellent points, excellent insight.
Wow. Excellent post. Thanks for the data.
“If they actually gave a rats ass about Scientologists, especially the rank-and-file that they claim are being subjected to criminal abuse, they wouldn’t behave the way they do.”
That’s actually an excellent point.
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