Reflections on the Daily News: Childhood Suicides

By Lewis Willis

An article in the Amarillo Daily News, December 16, 1976, reports an absolutely startling statistic. A psychiatrist in the Boston area has done some research into suicides among children ages 6 to 11. During the grade-school years, a time usually considered as the carefree and happy years, there is an alarming increase in suicides. In 1958, there were only three (3) suicides in this age group. In 1973, the last year that figures were available, there were 75 listed incidents of suicide among these children.

Several reasons are given for this increase. They are “to call attention to a very desperate situation, usually to a loss of a loved one,” such as in death, separation or divorce; to “get back at someone” with whom he has had an argument; to react to emotional disorders such as alcoholism; to counter states of depression in their parents; and because of personal depression, an ailment psychiatry did not recognize in children until about 10 years ago. The profession is trying to figure out if children are predisposed to depression or if it is a behavior-trait borrowed from the conduct of their parents. While recognizing the measure of parental influence toward depression, it is not presently possible to discredit the child’s own tendency toward depression. Depression was a major factor in the suicides of 25,683 Americans in 1974. Doctors cannot simply discount depression as a cause for increasing suicides among the children of Americans.

Fundamentally, the principles of psychiatry are Bible based. The God-revealed purpose for man is sound, leading us away from such conduct as produces the tendency toward suicide, instead of leading us toward suicide. The very things that are missing from our lives that make them seem so useless and hopeless, causing men to think that suicide is the only answer, are fully supplied by God in the Divine Revelation. It might seem extremely difficult to define that for which we are searching but it is not so elusive as to defy discovery.

Who among the race is not seeking “the good life?” What other explanation can be advanced for the constant exercise of our pleasure-seeking instincts? We are looking for something that is missing in our lives. We seek peace of mind, true and lasting happiness, a better tomorrow, a comfort in trials, illness and financial reversals, and something to which we might moor ourselves against the ever-present realities of death. It would be hard to imagine the multiplied millions of dollars that are being spent to provide these things. The pseudo-security which such provides is, however, soon swept away as we are faced with other crises which necessarily will come. In alcohol, drugs, recreation, work, houses, cars, clothes and other materialistic pursuits, we search for that which will serve as an anchor for the soul against the tribulations of a turbulent life. Yet, in frustration, we discover that we have not found the answer. Some, supposing the answer cannot be found, turn to suicide. And, now we are told, so are their 6 and 7 year old children!

The peace we seek for ourselves can be realized if we are at peace with God (Rom. 5:1). True and lasting happiness can be ours if we are in Christ Jesus, producing the fruits of the Spirit (Phil. 4:4; Gal. 5:22). The comfort that is so desperately needed with which we might face the trials of life is to be found in God (2 Cor. 1:3-4; Rom. 8:28). Tomorrow has to be better if we clothe ourselves in the spiritual blessings that Heaven bestows (Eph. 1:3). And, death can be faced if we have made ready for eternity (Phil 1:21-24; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). These things will not be found in carnal attachments. They are spiritual; they satisfy the deepseated longings of the soul and they are abundantly supplied by God, and only by Him. We must learn to seek them in the proper place to avail ourselves of stabilizing perspective.

The urgency of the search is compounded when we realize that not only do we desire and have need of these avenues of contentment, but our children are recognized to need them also. And, they are looking for this security and expecting it to come from Mom and Dad. We parents had better find it and share it with our children. Moments of harried clamor had better give way to moments of prayer and meditation. Else, our children will turn to the wrong sources to satisfy the desires of their souls. They need the wisdom and direction which parents can impart to them. In fact, we parents are under Divine Orders to give this direction to our children. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The judgment will reveal how well we have kept these orders. Or, to our dismay, we might find out while still walking this vale of tears. It does not always happen “to someone else.”

Truth Magazine XXI: 49, pp. 778-779
December 15, 1977