ARTICLE

America's Suicide Crisis: Dying For Lack Of Hope

News Image By John Stonestreet/Breakpoint.org August 15, 2017
Share this article:

How bad is America's suicide problem? Well, it's so bad that Americans' overall life expectancy has declined for the first time since the 1930s.

As Aaron Kheriaty writes in First Things, the suicide crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions. Rates are growing coast to coast, in rural and urban areas, among the poor and the rich, the young and the old. What in the world is going on, and what do we do about it?

In his article, Kheriaty, director of the Medical Ethics Program at Cal-Irvine, describes a witch's brew of factors behind this epidemic of death--ones we've talked about for years on BreakPoint: social fragmentation, an overall decrease in religious involvement, utilitarianism, and--yes--the growth of assisted suicide laws.

But in the end, Kheriaty boils the problem down to one word: Despair. Despair, as in the utter lack of hope.


In 1995, Robert Putnam first raised a red flag in an essay and subsequent book, "Bowling Alone." He noticed that while more Americans than ever before were bowling, the number of bowling leagues was declining. Folks were bowling alone. 

Similarly, fewer Americans were attending school board or town meetings, volunteering, or even getting together with their neighbors.

And this was long before the isolating effects of internet, social media and cell phones. I doubt that back then Putnam could have imagined a family of 4--mom, dad, sister, and brother--out to dinner together but each one staring into their own mobile devices. But you've seen it, and so have I.

This isolation breeds loneliness. And loneliness can be a major factor behind depression, which in turn can set people on the road to self-annihilation. 

Now, Kheriaty notes that clinical depression can and does have chemical causes as well, but, as he writes, "Your serotonin and dopamine levels may be out of kilter, but you may still have a problem with your Tinder compulsion and dinners alone in front of the television."


So while depression can be a serious mental illness that needs medical and psychological treatment, aloneness is curable. And that's exactly where the Church should be jumping up and down, waving its arms saying, "Come here! Come here! Join us!"

"We now have a sizeable body of medical research," Kheriaty continues, "which suggests that prayer, religious faith, participation in a religious community, and practices like cultivating gratitude, forgiveness, and other virtues can reduce the risk of depression [and], lower the risk of suicide."

One study of 89,000 people showed that those "who attend any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide" than those who don't. 

Obviously, church--or for that matter, synagogue or mosque--attendance reduces isolation. And of course, all three Abrahamic faiths "have strong moral prohibitions against suicide." 

But in the end, what religious faith provides is meaning, belonging, and ultimately hope for something beyond us or our circumstances and our self-isolation.

"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden," Jesus says, "and I will give you rest." We, my friends, need to bring people to Jesus.

Chuck Colson liked to say that Christianity offers the world a great proposal--a better way to live and flourish--an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

We have the invitations . . . are we passing them out?

Originally published at Breakpoint.org - reposted with permission.


Other News

November 23, 2017What Charles Manson Teaches Us About Terror

Charles Manson is dead at 83. We can learn from his story when it comes to understanding radical Islam....

November 23, 2017Palestinian Education - Raising The Next Generation To Hate

When Belgium funded a school for Palestinian children, it didn’t expect the institution to be named after Dalal Mughrabi - celebrated for ...

November 22, 2017A New Religion Forms That Will Worship A 'Godhead' Based On AI

This strange mix of atheism and radical transhumanism will worship a "Godhead" that will be created using artificial intelligence....

November 22, 2017Quran Sneaking Into Christian Settings

Allowing the Quran to be read inside a church is the equivalent of the ancient Israelites setting up an image of a false god in the Holy o...

November 21, 2017Science And The Bible

Would you be surprised to find out that a scientist has used the science of mathematical probability to prove that the Bible is the Word o...

November 21, 2017Radical Members Of Congress Oppose Israel Arresting Teen Terrorists

Nine members of Congress have introduced a bill to prevent U.S. aid to Israel from being used to arrest Palestinian terrorists who are und...

November 17, 2017Would You Get Chipped?

Earlier this year, Wisconsin-based,Three Square Market, announced that it was planning surgically to implant up to 50 employee volunteers ...

Get Breaking News