If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You are not alone.
Suicide remains at pandemic levels among all age groups in the U.S., but most grievously among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control cataloged 45,979 such deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes.
Also in 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 24-34.
Even more significantly, the CDC recorded 1.4 million suicide attempts during the same period. These numbers, grievous though they are, underreport the tragedy because the statistical tables are built upon shaky presumptions. How many thousands of deaths attributed to substance abuse, for example, are actually suicide-driven? How many family members hide or camouflage self-destructive acts in their midst?
We're not alone. Suicide levels in South Korea, for example, recently hit historic highs. In a December 2020 article titled "Suicide is on the rise among South Korean Women,"" The Economist magazine reported on record levels of suicide among young women in that Asian province. While COVID-19 accounted for 564 deaths, suicides during the same period were more than double that number. (We used these countries as information sources because they are both heavily Christianized. As a comparative, think of what horrible numbers might issue from non-Christian societies if accurately counted.)
This isn't just another 'woe-r-us' tale of misery. We're all saturated with negative thinking, dreary headlines and endless reports of savagery. And it is far past time for Christians to jump in and help fix things.
But it also seems most of us are frozen in place. As a result, I may be the most confused man in the world! Why these horrible statistics?
More than 25% of all Coloradans "live with a mental illness or substance use disorder." Where did this come from? A fourth of them?
That's 1.45 million people. How can that be? Worse than that: Colorado is in the top tier of wealthy states, yet 37th--highest in the statistical suicidal ranks of all states. It should be among the lowest according to rules of a society that clearly values wealth over most other goals of life.
Colorado is a recreational paradise, offering all the good things one can imagine. But we have turned more toward a Nevada definition of the word "good" rather than toward the positive adjective's biblical meaning.
And now we are facing the most vicious abortion laws in America, as our Senate closes in on approving a bill that will make it legal for a woman to give birth, see the umbilical cord cut, the baby cleaned up, and then order the doctors to kill the baby. I didn't make this up. Check out this story.
What is going on here? But the news gets worse. A Sunday, March 6, article in The Denver Post reports that all Colorado state universities are now unable to meet the demand for mental health disorders in their student populations. The study producing these sad statistics covered 700 colleges and universities.
This direct quote from the newspaper seals the sad deal: "Around 25% of people 18 to 24 surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Intervention in 2020 experienced thoughts of suicide."
And just last week, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reported it can no longer keep up with the demand for help. Of 2 million calls to the agency last year, 330,000 were abandoned because there was no one to answer them. They just don't have the resources to keep up with the demand.
Suicide? Why do these millions even consider death as the better alternative to their current lives? And this within the richest nation on earth?
We can perhaps understand a despot like Vladimir Putin killing other people at the slightest whim. A singular madman. But a general populace whose children are concerned primarily with how they look and what others think of them?
Drugs, of course, are also a factor. But why do people drug themselves up in the first place? It isn't just for the high. They could do better hanging onto a rope on the face of a 1,000-foot-high rock, as I did a few times.
All these people with mental/emotional hang-ups are filling some kind of a void, aren't they? And society is responding to spiritual issues with humanist assumptions. Physical solutions to supernatural causations are worse than ineffective, they're tragically irresponsible.
Spiritual problems arising from families who no longer teach or practice biblical values are treated with psycho-palliative theories. College professors play intellectual games called humanism, each trying to out-clever the others in explaining ephemeral matters that are unexplainable, bringing young minds into their mold of thinking and then scratching their heads as to why their victims have so many mental problems.
Meanwhile, as matters grow increasingly irreparable, as more and more spiritual problems are treated as organic issues, we can see clear trends to a hopeless world that one day might again be desperate enough to turn to the truth of God and the answers for every problem.
Dare we hope?
Ronald Dee Mallett of Milliken, Colorado, studied business, journalism, economics and mass communications at Colorado and Denver Universities and at Stanford as a Ford Fellow. An Air Force vet and retired multinational corporate executive, he later served as director of jail, prison, nursing home and Mexico outreaches, as well as intercession ministries for 20 years.
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