September 07, 2007

When Hope Is Lost – A Disturbing Trend

Yesterday, I saw this article over at FoxNews and began thinking about it. Having been impacted by suicide, it's a subject of great interest to me so when I see an article about it, I usually stop and see what the article has to say.

Here's the lead paragraph (But I encourage you to read the whole article):

The suicide rate among preteen and teenage girls rose to its highest level in 15 years, and hanging surpassed guns as the preferred method, federal health officials reported Thursday.

I have to admit that shocked me a little bit. It's never a good thing to think about young people losing hope and deciding to end it all. Really, it's not good when anybody loses hope and decides to end it all. But the question I had was "Why is the rate rising among preteen and teenage girls?" My answer: Sex/Relationships (primarily). If not directly, then derivatives of the sex/relationships issue to be sure.

Now before you go off half-cocked thinking I've lost my mind, read the rest of this post to let me explain. For pre-teens and teenagers (11 – 20), the number one issue they care about is acceptance and love. And if you think about that, you'll know it to be true. And if you have teenagers or are around them for any length of time, they spend their whole days thinking about their teenage community, their place in that community, and how to improve their standing in that community. If they are outcasts from that community, they seek refuge in the outcast society which in itself is a community to which they can belong. Belonging matters to this age group more than anything.

So what does sex have to do with it? A LOT. You see sex, in some fashion, will impact every child's home life in one form or another. Here are the ways:

  • They had a sexually dysfunctional family and the dad or mom is no longer around. Therefore, the teenager doesn't have strong relationships off which to base true affection or is not receiving all the parental attention that a teenager needs. To fill the void, they go looking for that affection elsewhere. Problem is, they have a wrong picture of who is supposed to provide that affection, they pick the wrong person to try and fill that void, they are hurt further, and the relationship ends. Now you have to understand for teenagers that breaking up IS A BIG DEAL. I know as adults we don't think so, but it is. In some ways, even more dramatic and hurtful than an adult divorce. So teenagers, who already aren't getting parental support, and who have now gone through a quasi-divorce are left with a flood of emotions that they can't make sense of. The emotions overwhelm them. They have no belonging to a person or a community. And they lose hope. When they lose hope, the chances of checking out increase dramatically.
  • They've been molested sexually. To cope with the pain and hurt of that, they further their escape from that by withdrawing, isolating, and avoiding. Because they have been hurt by someone they trust implicitly, they find it impossible to trust friends or even make friends. They end up alone. They're isolated from the community. They have no belonging. They believe that their life impacts no one and therefore their death won't either. And they kill themselves.
  • The American culture is a sex-crazed culture. It has dehumanized women in the multi-billion dollar porn industry. Teenage boys are growing up without fathers at an all-time rate. The boys have no idea what being men of honor or Christlike character is all about. Women are objects to them. They treat them as such. And a perfectly normal teenage girl can end up in a relationship with a troubled teenage boy and all it takes is for that relationship to do enough damage, and both parties can end up wanting to check out. The girl because she never thought a guy would treat her like that. Also, he made her feel like she was property anyway so why would killing herself matter? The guy because the girl breaks up with him. He'll never find love again. He's never seen love modeled for him. He might as well end it.

And the list could go on and on. But it comes down to this. Teenagers are under assault and more and more are having to face adult issues with childlike intellects and they don't know how to cope. They've never been taught to cope. They have no idea how to cope. They probably aren't going to church somewhere because the church doesn't want "troubled" kids to screw up their nice church house. Neighbors don't give a crap. Christians are too busy pursuing their "careers" and "success" to notice. They have no one, and when you feel like no one cares, suicide becomes a more real option. There are other things in this report that I could talk about, but this is what came to mind today.

I'll end with that paragraph from the article:

The CDC is advising health officials to consider focusing suicide-prevention programs on girls ages 10-19 and boys between 15-19 to reverse the trends

There's only one suicide prevention program I know that makes an eternal difference. The Gospel. Please pray for young children and teenagers. They are under assault. And they need you to help and care enough to get involved. And I would also say – everyone needs to be loved by someone and feel that someone cares. Don't every miss the opportunity to spot a lonely person and get involved in their lives. Loneliness, not belonging, and isolation are lethal conditions. When hope is lost, suicide (in people's minds) is the only cure. It's wrong, and it's satanic, but it's true. May the God of hope – Give you all hope! AMEN.

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