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Gloriavale Investigation: ‘Outbursts’ over the way he was controlled

Warning: This story is about suicide.

A former Gloriavale member told an inquest into her brother’s death that sometimes “it can seem easier to die” than to try to leave the West Coast Christian community.

Sincere Standtrue, who was 20, was found unconscious at the Gloriavale paint shop where he worked in October 2018 and later died in hospital.

Coroner Alexandra Cunninghame is chairing the inquest into his death in Greymouth, including whether his death was accidental or self-inflicted and his mindset at the time of his death.

Sincere’s sister, Rose Standtrue, said in court Friday that her brother had “never been treated like an adult.”

“I don’t think he had any ability to show maturity… because he was always treated like a child,” she said.

Rose had previously told the court that Sincere was beaten, bullied, prevented from obtaining a driver’s license and kept out of community activities for being “different” and deaf.

He often complained to Rose about his behavior and could become quickly angry if something went wrong or if he became frustrated or scared, she said.

“The reason for most of his outbursts was the way he was treated.”

On one occasion, he bit a boy in class, on another he threw his mother’s sewing machine out of a second-story window while she was sewing his pants pockets, Rose said.

In Gloriavale, people could only leave their family room once they were married, unless they were sent to live elsewhere as a form of punishment, he said.

A few months before Sincere’s death, Gloriavale leaders sent him to live in the men’s bathroom because of his bad temper, she told the court.

Marcus Zintl, the attorney for Sincere and Rose’s parents, Hannah and Caleb Standtrue, told Rose that she was wrong and that it was her parents’ decision.

“It wasn’t my parents’ decision to put Sincere in that room,” she said.

“My parents loved Sincere. I remember they were crying when they told him he had to go there. I remember a senior leader from Gloriavale was in the room when they told him.”

Zintl said Sincere attended anger management classes, used hearing aids and saw a cranial therapist.

All such appointments had to be arranged and approved by leadership first, Rose said.

If he had grown up outside the community, he would have had more help at school, adequate opportunities and more resources to help him deal with his anger, he said.

“His whole life would have been different to what it was in Gloriavale.

“In Gloriavale, your entire life is dictated and managed by you. Someone who wants his way, who is stubborn or ‘rebellious’ as the leaders call him… If he is constantly belittled, then of course, of course “They’re going to have outbursts of anger.”

Rose had spoken to “quite a few people within Gloriavale” who had discussed suicide, he told the court.

“They feel trapped there. There are people today who feel that way.”

There were psychological and physical barriers to leaving, so many didn’t feel it was a valid option, Rose said.

“It’s a very hard process and sometimes it seems like it would be easier to die than to try to leave.”

She confirmed that she did not know if her brother had been depressed, but there was no discussion about mental health in the community, so many would not know what depression was.

Previous witnesses had told the court that Sincere was seen in good spirits, singing and playing with children on the day he was found unconscious.

He had been described as a happy, kind and gentle person.

The investigation continues on Friday.

Where to get help:

I need to talk? Call or text toll-free 1737 anytime to speak with a trained counselor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide or for those who are worried about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email [email protected]

What’s Up – Free counseling for young people aged 5-19, online chat 11am-10.30pm 7 days a week or toll-free 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 11am-11pm Asian Family Services: 0800 862 342 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 8 pm or text message to 832 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Languages ​​spoken: Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and English.

Rural Support Trust helpline: 0800 787 254

Health line: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

CONTOUR: 0800 688 5463 (6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.)

If it is an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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