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Meredith Sutton’s column on suicide and its warning signs and possible causes (Mind & Body, Sept. 5) was both timely and informative, as suicide rates have risen 25% in the last 20 years. A very disturbing fact is that 8-year-olds have killed themselves. How does a child that young conceive of an act of self-destruction? What can induce a kid living in the most prosperous, affluent and comfort-laden country in history decide that self-annihilation is preferable to living?
We must examine underlying reasons and see what can be done to remedy the fact that there’s been a dismaying 33% increase of suicide in the age cohorts of 10-14 and 15-24.
Let us speculate on what forces may be contributing to this tragic state of affairs. The fact that children from the most tender age are subject to messages regarding the environment that pinpoint man as a cancer on the planet may lead some to feel remorse for their very existence. Internalizing this attitude and coupling it with a very blase societal attitude toward abortion, the child may devalue his own existence, thus making self-destruction seem reasonable.
Children crave order and stability. When basic concepts such as sex are reinterpreted and re-imaged by people who seek to undermine traditional sex roles, children can become confused. Parents are reluctant to state that one cannot change sex, thus adding to their child’s confusion. If something as fundamental as chromosomal determination of sex is seen as not immutable, children can be forgiven if they view every aspect of the world through the same lens, lending fuel to the conflagration of instability they experience.
Children are susceptible to whatever cultural motifs their parents subject them to as they have no innate knowledge of the world. When white children are subjected to a bombardment of guilt and shaming such as the white privilege movement, it will make them experience both guilt and shame leading to despair. Given that one’s whiteness cannot be expunged from one’s being, there is no solution for the white child. Minority children who are told they are victims of systemic racism likewise will despair and will feel oppressed and trapped.
Parents, teachers and mentors need to embrace traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and teachings that can lead us back to sanity and an embrace of a more liberal, tolerant and rational worldview.