By C. Titus Edwards
Young People And Suicide
Teenage suicide has been getting a lot of attention lately. Last October CBS aired two television movies about the subject, and ABC presented “Surviving” in January, focusing on two teenagers who killed themselves and the impact it had on their parents. There is good reason for the increased attention. Suicide among young people has risen dramatically. The suicide rate among young people in the United States has tripled since 1955, with an estimated 5,000 youths between ages 15-24 committing suicide each year. In Clearlake, a suburb of Houston, Texas, there were six suicides in a two-and-a-half month period. One school district in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has had an “epidemic” of suicides. The suicide rate among young people is increasing 10 times faster than that of any other age group. More young men than women actually commit suicide, though more young women attempt to. Young men prefer using guns, while young women prefer pills. Suicides might even be higher than are being reported, for many suicides might be listed as “accidents.”
Teenage Magazine surveyed 1,022 13-19-year-olds to find out the reasons behind teenage depression that leads to suicide. School and environment ranked first with 76%; followed by girlfriend/boyfriend relations with 54%; family conflicts with 44%; friendships with 43%; and appearance with 40% responding that this caused their depression. (The percentages do not add up to 100% because most all cited more than one reason for their depression.) It seems that for many young people depression originates in the home, with 70% of teenage suicides coming from broken homes. Dr. Jeff Ezell says that “what these kids almost always suffer from is a lack of self-esteem.”
Let us understand that suicide is wrong. It is self-murder (Rom. 13:9). Life is to be respected since it is the gift of God (Gen. 2:7; 1:27). Suicide stems from a lack of self control, which we are to maintain (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Pet. 1:6).
Young people, the answer to life’s problems is not suicide, but Christ! First of all, have a good attitude about yourself. You are somebody and are worth something. God loves you! Don’t put yourself down. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Second, learn to accept responsibility and thereby deal with the problems of life. Do not try to escape reality. Life has many negatives that must be dealt with. But remember, everybody faces them! It is how you handle them that is important. “For every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5). Realize that every cloud has its silver lining. Look for the good, even in tragedies, for they are there. Like the song says, “Give her thorns and she’ll find roses; give her sand, and she’ll find seas; give her rain and she’ll find rainbows.” And why is that? Because she finds good in everything! Third, do not worry about things beyond your control (Mt. 6:31-34). It doesn’t do any good! Just learn to live with some things that may not be perfect-everybody has to! Love yourself even with your fat thighs or crooked teeth. Fourth, be cheerful and enjoy life (Eccl. 9:7-10; 1 Pet. 3:10-11). God wants us to. Fifth, never lose hope (Psa. 16:9). God is on your side and will help you. Salvation can be yours. Realize that things that happen in this life are not nearly as important as going to heaven to live with God in the hereafter.
Paul kept one man from committing suicide by teaching him of Jesus-the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:25-31). He turned his despair into joy. He gave him a reason for living and meaning to his life. We should all have the same things through Jesus Christ our Savior! Suicide is not the answer, but Jesus is!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 3, pp. 77-78
February 7, 1985