A couple of months ago, I produced a presentation titled, “The PRIDE Renewal Tour,” which noted the changes in our culture and what can be done about them. Among the subjects discussed, I reviewed a recent report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding how youth suicides have skyrocketed 70% over the last decade. “According to the CDC, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016, making it the 10th leading cause of death.” It is also the 2nd leading cause of death among young people, ages 15-24.
According to Tom Simon, one of the authors of the CDC report, the increase in suicides is not limited to just our youth, “We know that overall in the US, we’re seeing increases in suicide rates across all age groups.”
This was amplified by the recent suicides of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. Although it is unclear as to precisely why they decided to take their own lives, it was reported they suffered from depression. Despite their success, they simply couldn’t find happiness and contentment.
From their deaths, the public is slowly becoming aware of the growing trend in suicide, particularly among our youth. So what is causing this, failure? This certainly was not the case with Spade and Bourdain. Perhaps it was triggered by the influx of drugs and technology. Maybe it is simple depression, which has also been growing over the years. A recent REPORT claims “15 percent of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.” Of that, “nearly 50 percent of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.”
Again, we can look at the influences of drug and technology addiction, but I believe it goes deeper than this, specifically a loss of meaning in life which particularly affects our youth. To this end, let us consider the slow erosion of our MORAL VALUES as reported annually by the Gallup organization.
I have been following this since 2012 and in just the past six years alone, there has been a noticeable decline; when asked, “HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE OVERALL STATE OF MORAL VALUES IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY?”
We can blame this erosion on the media’s distorted views of morality, the failure of the family unit to properly teach their youth, and the decline of organized religion. As to the latter, both Gallup and Harris have produced polls showing the belief in a Supreme Being is slowly declining. Further, attendance at religious institutions is also dwindling; “65 percent of churches are declining or plateaued.”
Even more disturbing is fewer younger people are going to church which, of course, affects membership. Consequently, “for every new church that opens, four close.” For many years, churches and temples preached the lessons of right and wrong, but with fewer attendees, these lessons now go unheeded. It has become glaringly obvious to churches they must change in order to survive, be it the venue or how to disseminate their message.
More importantly, STUDIES make a direct connection between the rise of youth suicides on a loss of sense of purpose as derived from the decline of religion. In other words, as religion declines, youth suicides skyrocket. It is not a coincidence.
We would like to believe money, fame, and success leads to happiness. As evidenced by celebrities such as Spade and Bourdain, this is not the case. It’s a matter of how we see ourselves, our role in society, and learning to live a meaningful life, which are all lessons we should learn from our family, our schools, and our places of worship. However, if we do not support such institutions, we are doomed to watch our suicide rate continue to escalate unabated.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Keep the Faith!
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