suicideDriving a significant distance to work is a clear and present danger for a hypochondriac. In case you had not noticed, billboards are increasingly about sickness. One drive to work could leave him wondering about the ten most important questions to ask a doctor, suspicious that he might have lupus, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, or certain that he is suffering from autism to some degree. In the public schools we incessantly talk about and try to normalize disorder. The entire public school system is grounded in disorder. We are compelled to talk about mental illness, intellectual deficiency, gender issues, blood borne pathogens, the flu, and many other kinds of poverty and disease prevention strategies. The latest disordered issue sweeping across elementary school campuses is youth suicide.

The culture of death is insidious and ubiquitous. Satan and his minions have their favorite haunts, like the mainstream media, politics, healthcare, the public schools, and the field of psychology. It is hard to determine where the plagues of the Culture of Death are festering most, but festering they are and in more places than the above mentioned.

I have been in the public schools as a “teacher” for nearly a quarter of a century. Sometimes I think I am so clever that I have heard and seen the most ridiculous things humans can say and do, and then out of nowhere I am staggered by something even weirder than I could have imagined. Yesterday was one of those shocking days.

We were assaulted by an enemy I had not yet seen. It came in the form of a bizarre but vivacious old woman- butch short gray hair, hunched over, jaw jutting forth with a set of false teeth, a rock hard countenance forged in the 60s and a passionate zeal for spreading the secular humanist gospel of salvation by education. She spoke in a crackly high pitched whine about the need to talk to every single child from age five through high school about suicide. She recommended that we have regular classroom discussions, then branch out to small groups and individuals and get that conversation started.

The tone and tenor of her screed was so disconcerting that I finally had to interject, “Madam, don’t you think talking to such young children about suicide and death in this way is a destruction of innocence?” She screeched at me “DO YOU WANT THEM TO DIE? I love these children, all of them. I WANT THEM TO LIVE! Five year olds are killing themselves these days!” She proceeded to threaten us with legal action. She called it “criminal negligence” if someone happened to kill themselves on our watch. (Note to self: include in teacher-student contract “I will not kill myself while Mr. R. is my teacher.”)

Well this was thirty minutes that felt like an eternity but there was that familiar “staff meeting inner silence” where everything else is white noise, and I got to do some good thinking. This lady threw out statistics, blame, praise, hate, platitudes, folk sayings, jargon, and tons of gobbledygook. It occurred to me: if there is a profession on planet Earth that knows less about a true anthropology than public education it is the field of psychology.

Psychologists take direction from their ever-morphing Diagnostic Statistical Manuals (DSM)—a guide that evolves, ebbs and flows with the swaying pathologies oozing for the pores of the fetid body of statistical social science. They reduce the human to a bag of molecules with hormones driving “perfectly natural urges” that must be satisfied, or we risk ending up with a serial killer. All morality is relative and guilt is imaginary and imposed as a form of torture to control others, usually by patriarchal white men. Credence in this ever-changing tome is as foolish as it is dangerous.

This mad woman, spouting the pseudo-wisdom of the DSM said “suicide happens to all kinds of people, it happens to everyone. I come from a superb family, an excellent family BFD! Suicide runs rampant in my family. And it can run rampant in your family too.” After going into excruciating detail about her personal mental illnesses—I assure you no slight afflictions—she exclaimed “BFD!” again. She cackled “everybody is mentally ill SO WHAT—we have to GET OVER IT! DE-STIGMATIZE IT!”

Next, the lady alerted us to the signs of suicide risk. They included irritability, changing friends, depression, being easily swayed by the media, limited communication with parents, and an inability to concentrate. This describes all my male students. The suicide prevention expert assured us that if we get the person into the right program everything will be all right. I immediately thought of that series called Intervention—where something like 98% of all the people they save from drug use relapse when they are finished with the program.

Far from making light of the issue of youth suicide, it is a vitally important topic about which something must be done—just not what the experts are saying. The rapidly decaying morality of our society is helping to form citizens with dead souls, making suicides a punctuation mark in some cases. Since the 1950s, suicide among young adults has tripled to about twelve for every 100,000 people. For every successful suicide there are 100 attempts. For every attempt there are 1000 fantasies about suicide. Among young adults, boys are six times more likely to kill themselves than girls.

The folks in the field of psychology commit a profane rage against order, the Creator, objective morality, human nature and the virtues but surely they must be aware of Goethe’s The Sorrow of Young Werther and the fact that the sociologist David Phillips coined the term “the Werther effect” to describe the copycat suicide, the suicide contagion, the imitative suicidal behavior transmitted via the mass media? And now these people want to scream about suicide from the rooftops? The suicide ambassador assured us that talking about it to all children will not increase suicide at all; “all the studies bear this out” she assured us.

It is the most outrageous arrogance that this group thinks they can take members of this culture steeped in death for so long and cut off from the culture of life for even longer and save them from the suicidal tendencies that flow so naturally out of our disordered society. With the current nature of television shows, music, news, magazines, parties, politics, with the breakdown of the family through divorce and adultery, with mental anguish on a scale rarely seen, and with the constant advertisement of sickness, what do we expect? After children are taught en masse to ignore everything true about themselves and are asked to believe a pack of lies about themselves, the inevitable result is that they do not know what it is to be human or how they are to live. What are our children to do when they are separated from their true purposes? The real surprise is that more have not committed suicide.

What shocks me the most about all this madness is that the self-proclaimed experts are willing to do anything, anything at all to save these poor children from suicide except for what is needed. They will buy them vacations at self-esteem resorts, give them fake drugs, room, board, faux friends, secret sayings, pep talks, makeovers, massages, spa days, and condoms. But they will not tell them the truth. The single thing these kids really need they will not get: the truth. As a society we traded our final cause, our purpose, our telos, our truly human and fulfilling ends for a bucket of hubris, and the natural end is death.

What do all these children on the verge of suicide really need? They don’t need more people talking to them about killing themselves. They need loving families, moms and dads who are faithful, united, morally mature and nurturing. They need brothers and sisters. They need friends and the guidance and tools to cultivate the virtues. They need safe and healthy communities in which to practice the virtues and to cultivate friendships in the kind of fellowship that builds up civilizations. They need the truth about what it means to be a human being.

The increasing suicides in our bankrupt society are an incalculable loss to this generation. Our children are killing themselves at increasing rates, and I suspect the rates will go higher. It is not complicated to see that we have let our children down in nearly every way. The answer to suicide is not education. The answers cannot be found in the public schools or in the field of psychology. The answer is a return to virtue and to the morally ordered families that comprise the real building blocks of the well-ordered society. The good family, the domestic church, which is the first school, is the only entity capable of transmitting the culture that leads to life.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found at The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

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28 replies to this post
  1. Psychologists certainly do not take direction from the DSM; psychiatrists do. Psychologists don’t diagnose mental illnes, with the occasional exception of forensic paychologists. The majorly of psychologists use talking therapy, which is tame to the point of being impotent, or psychoanalysis, which has always been rare.

    • Mr. Davis,


      According to WebMD- in this article at least,

      “Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a mental illness.” And “The standard manual used by experts for the diagnosis of recognized mental illness in the U.S. is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM), which is compiled by the American Psychiatric Association.”

      They include psychologists and “other mental health care professionals” as “experts” that use the DSM. They most certainly do take direction from the DSM.

      You refer to what psychologists do as “tame” and “impotent”- I am nearly speechless.

      School teachers use the DSM in a watered down form as do the universities, media and special interest groups etc- I contend that only the saints are uninfluenced by this horrid tome-

      • Mr. Rummelsburg, I certainly hope that’s not the case! Of course you would know more about the goings-on in the public school system, but after shadowing psychologists in public and private practice I’ve found that diagnoses, when they’re made, aren’t typically disclosed to the patient, but simply used to guide cognitive-behavioral or humanistic talking therapy. If what you’ve observed is true, I might suggest that it’s an outlier. Most psychologists don’t have the medical training to diagnose from the DSM, and it wouldn’t be of significant use to their practice. I do hope this isn’t a widespread trend; that’s simply not what the discipline allows for.

  2. Excellent and alarming article. Thank you for writing it. This reminds me why I should be thankful for teaching in the free market, rather than in the public education system. I would not have had the stomach to sit through what you described here….

  3. Astonishingly good–although “good” is probably not the word to use to describe such a downer subject. While I ponder the implications of the sentence, “The entire public school system is grounded in disorder” (what an apt, and disturbing sentence!), I suggest we also think about the fact that in the formation of priests the Catholic Church requires that every candidate submit to—-a psychological examination!

  4. Well I would positive psychology as a whole isnt a satanic thing. I say this as a christian attempting to enter the field, there are alot of secular policies which can be portrayed as negative but it is a field which can do alot of good as well! I would also contend the DSM itself is not evil, it may be influenced by politics but for the most part has an empirical basis. The DSM and psychology can, like any other field or book, be used for Ill purposes but in of itself is hardly an evil thing.

  5. In the 1960s, many young people said that drug-awareness education left them better prepared to take drugs rather than avoid them. Suicide too, methinks.

    Poor countries where kids have responsibilities, and youngsters with many siblings, may be less prone to suicide because they are too busy to be self-obsessed. So as this fine article supposes, youth suicides will increase.

  6. Mr. Rummelsburg is exactly right; he hit so many nails on their heads that I hardly know where to begin. I, too, am in public education, and the system is as knee-deep in phony wisdom as the author suggests. I teach at the high school level, but my children are in middle school, where they suffer through a drug-prevention program called D.A.R.E. (despite its being an acronym, the logo includes the periods; even bumper stickers are available). From elementary school through sixth grade, students get a weekly “dose” of drug information and statistics from the local police station’s youth officer. When my son came home and asked me whether his grandfather would soon die because he smokes cigarettes, I didn’t know what to say. The school had put a fear into my son that as a parent I was not ready to discuss until he was somewhat older; I was forced into a conversation whose time had not come on my family’s terms but on the school’s. Now, smoking is not suicide, but the point is the same: In each case the school is presuming to be a parent.

    About suicide, many kids fantasize about it because they imagine a big funeral with lots of adoring people and a few enemies regretting every bad thing they ever said. What better way to encourage these vulnerable people than to discuss it in gloriously emotional terms as Mr. Rummelsburg’s school visitor appears to have done. It’s more like a suicide club than a prevention measure. And then when some kid brings his fantasy to fruition, the news covers it with ready-made tragedy music and footage of Teddy bears, flowers, and candlelight vigils–precisely what the victim had imagined.

  7. As a person who attempted suicide, let me point some things out for you:
    I have two loving, caring, incredible parents.
    I have two great sisters and a wonderful brother.
    I attend church every sunday.
    I live in one of the most heavily Christian areas in the country.
    I attended a Christian school that focuses on developing young men. Motto: “Inspiring boys and building men.” along with “Man’s chief end is to glorify god and enjoy him forever.”
    I live in a very, very safe area.

    None of this helped.

    What did help, however was therapy twice a week. Spending a week in a mental hospital. Attending group therapy and learning that I’m not alone. Prescription drugs to get me back on my feet. My parents, siblings, and community also helped, but they couldn’t have done it alone.

    Get your facts straight. It’s an illness. We need proper care. A loving family won’t heal a broken leg. It wont heal a broken brain.

    • Dear Harry,

      I am so sorry to hear about your difficulty, my heart goes out to you and your family. I make no claims to expressing any kind of truth about the vast range of human affliction and its relationship to genetics. And specifically, if group therapy and prescriptions got you back on your feet then God bless you.

      I speak generally of the truth that I have observed is that most youth that commit suicide do not do so from a broken head, but from a broken heart.

      I welcome from you any straightening out of the facts you may be able to offer me.

  8. As the author states, suicide is only an obvious symptom of a broken society that increasingly marginalizes GOD and religion through ever expanding secularism. I do not discount the psychological sciences, they have only been available for only the past century. All humans have Free Will to accept GOD or reject him, or at least marginalize Him thinking that since modern Science and Technology and Medicine have been VERY successful the past several centuries, the prevailing attitude is to turn first to secular Science. I am sure that the author has to concede the advances in Medical Science. It doesn’t have all the solutions, cures, etc. But, it does have a track record. Any approach to fighting mental illness has to be Holistic–in the sense that humans have not just a Body, but a Mind and Spirit as well. Medical approaches to mental illness treat only the Body. But the author rejects Secularism too much because it has given people an opportunity to test various options for treatment, ones that the Church have historically vilified. I reach out to the author to work with the Medical Science instead of rejecting it as THE problem. I say this as a Christian, as a Scientist and sufferer of mental illness. DO NOT reject the Gifts that the practitioners of the Psychological Sciences use to help people. GOD bless you.

    • Dear David,

      What a kind soul you are- your words belie a sensitive and in intelligent mind. You are right, I very much discount the psychological sciences- their short tenure and modernist roots are ill omens to true healing. However, I would agree with you that the medical sciences have been beyond marvelous and astounding to the point of the miraculous. And if by successful you mean in a temporary sense, then I would agree with you. But here is the problem, the psychological sciences are geared towards symptoms and relief and these second things drive methods that are almost wholly ineffective, and any appearances of success are temporary and only a postponement of the real work that must be done with every human soul. In avoiding one cross we guarantee ourselves a bigger cross down the line.

      David, I don’t think one can reject secularism too much, for the City of God encompasses the secular world in its proper order, and the City of Man completely excludes the City of God. David, I assure you that I don’t see medical science as the problem, not at all. The problem is the fall, the self-deceit that befalls us so effortlessly, Satan and a world steeped in the Culture of Death. Medical science in the service of any of these three tyrannical masters is poorly used. I hope and pray for healing and health for all afflicted souls, and I believe the psychology of Christ is the perfect remedy- Without vilifying any treatment, can we honestly assess the efficacy rate of the psychologists? Though immeasurable, I believe we can see fairly clearly they have utterly failed.

      Nonetheless David, I will think long and hard on the things you have said to me in the hopes that I may one day better understand what it is your are telling me here.Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment David! God bless you!

  9. This article borders on the absurd. I quote, “Satan and his minions have their favorite haunts…like the field of psychology”. I’m really scandalized by the fact that people are mistaking this article for a well-thought out and rational argument. This is the type of sloppy thinking and overtly emotional manipulation that we have come to expect from our increasingly intellectually degenerate society. And it is no surprise that this gentleman teaches in the public school system, where else would one be encouraged to use emotionally charged rhetoric like “satan and his minions” to discredit an entire profession rather than resorting to, oh, I don’t know, actual facts. And by the way, Psychology isn’t just driven by the “fetid” insights of social science but have relied upon research from biology (most mental illnesses are shown to be brain-based), chemistry (medication wasn’t developed through a survey) and, yes, even theology at times (read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and tell me that was “Satan’s Minions” at work). This type of drivel is what makes society at large view Conservatives as complete morons that are stuck in the middle ages and I can’t say that I blame them.

    And yes, I am a psychologist. Many people in the mental health profession use the DSM, not just psychiatrists. Some of the disorders do not need a medical diagnosis (like the Autism Spectrum Disorders, Language based disorders, or Learning Disabilities).

    While I do agree that talk-therapy is over-rated and medication doesn’t solve everything, I think Psychology is a valuable field that has helped many. While there are, no doubt, Psychologists that have advocated for harmful practices, I don’t see it as a valid reason to dismiss the career field entirely. I mean, are you going to stop taking blood pressure medication just because you saw a documentary on Dr. Kevorkian? There’s bad practitioners in every field. Also, there is a physical component to mental illness, and just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a “real” disorder. Would you tell a person who broke their leg to stop being a victim and just walk without seeking medical treatment? Well, those who have brain-based disorders benefit from medical treatment as well and it is just sheer ignorance to say that mental illness is a “crutch”.

    As far as the whole suicide issue, some of it IS related to untreated mental illness. Some of it can be attributed to other factors like, the increasing self-objectification that is rampant in our society. The utilitarian mentality of our society that states that a person only has value only when they are useful. This is what is at the root of a lot of the issues young people face.

    • Dear Kayla,

      I thank you profusely for your sincere response to my essay. Though it was not specifically about the field of psychology, you invite further inquiry into your field and the specific mindset that undergirds the profession. If you are indeed a worthy representative of your field, and I suspect you are, than I have designs to respond to your specific points in a future essay. As well, I have already begun to pen a specific essay just on the field of psychology.

      Could I interest you in a correspondence? Although you have given me plenty to work with, in the interest of getting your position just as you would have it put forth, perhaps we could discuss in detail how you would like your case represented, also, I would be very pleased to clarify any of my positions that may have confused you. If you are interested, please give permission to the editor of TIC to give me your email address and I certainly will give him permission to give you mine.

      I am very much looking forward to a dialogue with you! Sincerely Steven

  10. I share Mr. Masty’s observations, and would add one related point: this article is about individual suicide, but then there is national suicide.

    Almost all of the mass shooters to plague America commited suicide at the end of their rampage, and the rampages themselves were suicidal insofar as they featured Americans mass murdering Americans. That is the actual literal definition of the “suicide of s super power”.

    Countries that have experienced war and destruction tend to value the life of citizens and avoid mass murder/suicide rampages because people realize that mass killing of ones fellow citizens is tantamount to attacking the national fabric which was rescued from oblivion by the sacrifices of millions.

    Americans of all people should know better than to kill one another; except it seems that there is a disconect between the self-absorbed society, the soldiers who more and more resemble a mercenary army rather than a citizen’s army and between the lives of the people and the wars America is fighting. A sign of national strength is the recognition of common bonds which temper the possibility of mass killing.

    With all due respect to individual cases where psychological help is necessary, I agree with Mr. Rummelsburg’s main point here, and say that the fact America ignores it is a cause of not just individual, but mass shooting national suicide as well.

  11. There was loose talk a few years back regarding “a culture of death”.
    Perhaps the talk was not so loose after all?
    This madwoman of shallow really wants to “destigmatize suicide” for FIVE YEAR OLD CHILDREN? (“They’re coming for the kids, Ma. Best pack a grab-n-go bag and vamoose.”)

  12. Speak of the Devil:

    When a nation’s citizens have such serious problems with their identity – there is no nation anymore, there is only suicide – then it’s just a question of how – alone, after killing kids in a school, or fighting with Jihadi terrorists. I omit the irony of the fact that this poor soul died on the same side that the US government supports in Syria – then again, isn’t that the definition of national suicide as well?

  13. Hm. I guess the news that the public school is now scandalizing children with “suicide education” isn’t all that surprising. Just the next logical step for modern society. And the description of the harpy sent to “evangelize” is fantastic–you really bring her to life for your readers. I do think there is a problem, though, with your sweeping dismissal of the field of psychology/psychiatry. While there are many many problems and many bad, ignorant, and just plain stupid therapists out there, it’s a mistake to dismiss the entire project as a “haunt of the minions of Satan.” Well, yes, it can be. But Christ is there, also. As with many fields and people, it’s a matter of letting Him in and allowing Him to be hidden. As you point out with regard to the DSM manuals, psychology and psychiatry tend to treat not so much the person as the symptoms that are manifest, not from a disease oftentimes, but from a “disorder of the self.” People whom the general psychiatric community call mentally ill have a basic problem within themselves that cannot be fixed by statistics or medication or ridiculous so-called education, but only by relationship–true relationship. And for some–perhaps many–people, the relationship they need is with a therapist, who can understand them, and who can aid them in the work it takes for them to find their true selves. Unfortunately, those types of professionals are still fairly rare (though growing, thanks to a few, though as yet small, institutes). Even more unfortunate is the tendency among conservatives–who should be cheering on and promoting a change and a fuller understanding of the human person–to promote fear and a blanket dismissal of the whole enterprise.

    Full(ish) disclosure: My thoughts stem from living with my husband, who is a psychiatrist. I myself am not actually qualified in a professional sense to discuss this, but talking with him every night as he learns more and his thought develops has given me a strong opinion, which I hope has not offended. As a homeschooling mom of 7, this is a dangerous website, since the temptation to comment is always strong, but the time to do so is so very limited!! I love that you all keep me thinking, though, and enjoy everything I read here. God bless!

    • English Teacher,

      Your comment is superb! I tend to agree with you that a sweeping and entire dismissal of the psychology field overreaches. But I believe it is similar to education. Education is a fine thing- “American Education” is rotten through and through because the field has strayed irretrievably far from all true conceptions of education proper. There are actually dozens of fine teachers and educational programs in America still, but the number is such a miniscule percentage that their influence is negligible on the large scale, and invaluable on the individual scale. Just so, psychology, which used to be the study of the soul, as a field is utterly as bankrupt as the public schools. And also just like the public schools any perceived successes tend to be misattributed to the industry standards and methods. Any psychologist who embraces the field’s current standards and methods is propagating soul chaos. I am however aware of many good Thomistic psychologists who are amazing practitioners.

      I am going to write on the failures of the psychology field and I would welcome criticism from your excellent and seemingly sane mind and any advice from your husband would be welcomed too. Most psychologists are dogmatically inclined to propagate the false industry standards and completely closed to truth that contradicts postmodern falsity.

      Your line about the fact that modern psychology treats “symptoms that are manifest” and not the “disorder of the self” is profound and incisive.
      Again, I am grateful for your comments and this site is the better for them- Pax Christi vobiscum!

  14. I’m with Dr. Willson and Mr. Rummelsburg on this one. Some readers are , I think, confusing alarm over the political threats stemming from psychology with an attack on psychology as a science.

    I know specific instances where Harvard trained lawyers were harrassed by governments using psychologists to posit that their non-conformist political views were actually psychological deficiencies. There is nothing easier than getting rid of uncomfortable political opponents by having some psychologists stamp a paper that says the person is crazy.

    Mr. Rummelsburg also makes a good point that so much of secular psychology ignores the soul. This is not a “backwards” point. The age of secular rationalism, the XXth century, saw more mass murder and more pathology than the Middle Ages one reader derided. Nietzsche proclaimed “God is Dead” and that “Psychology must be made the Queen of the Sciences” in Beyond Good and Evil. The XXth bears out what happens when we do that.

    There are great psychologists out there, no one denies that, and certainly a logos of the psyche (logic of the soul) is a worthy venture. I personally enjoy Eric Fromm’s work. I’m sure there’s much more. But psychologists as a whole, like most social scientists, have become dangerous to free government. There’s nothing celebratory about more Americans needing therapy. It’s the same problem with law – our laws should be few and clear, but since we’ve stopped educating for self-government, our laws are broad and complex, and our people rely on lawyers when they should not.

    Making light of Mr. Rummelsburg’s point is reckless. Americans no longer have two parent homes, priests, pastors and ministers, just shrinks and psychotropic drugs. That is a very dangerous trend, and contrary to Nietzsche, we should not presume that “psychology is the Queen of the sciences.” People are not lab rats. It is embarrassing if the citizens of a republic require psychological care to the extent prevelant in the West. People ought to be self-governing, self-reliant.

    I fully agree that certain aspects of biological psychology are fascinating and can teach us more about who were are, but that is quite different from having courts rely on “expert psychologists” to proclaim political opinions legally insane and using psychological manipulation in education, political indoctrination and other activities which attack the dignity of the individual person.

    Psychologists, like all “social scientists” should take into account Husserel’s critique from his “Crisis of the European Sciences”. Psychology, while interesting, is less edifying to Man than philosophy and religion.

    • Maybe I don’t quite understand your comment, so if I miss what you’re saying, correct me, but it seems like you’re talking about three things now. The effects of psychology on education (which was, I thought, the original point in the article), psychology as a pseudo-science (the ongoing discussion in the comments), and your new point of the political influence of psychology. As to the latter, well, I guess lawyers will use anything they can pull out of their–ahem–hats in order to win their case. Nothing new there, infortunately. Which founding father said something about how it would be up to the people to keep the republic they had created? I don’t think anyone here will argue against the fact that it it slipping through our fingers.

      Psychology is certainly new, a response to the modern age. It’s a pity it is needed, but there it is. Things are not as they should be, as we all know, so the cry is no longer “but it shouldn’t be this way!” but rather, “what shall we do about it?” Psychology properly understand, is, I think, not so much a science as a philosophy. It is an understanding of the human person, how we develop from conception to adulthood, our personalities, our limitations (defenses, in psychological terms), and how we relate to others, and, ultimately, to God. No, we should not celebrate the fact that so many need therapy today, and I’m not sure anyone does. Would that no one did need it. But they do. Because no matter how much we Americans like to tout our “self-reliance” and independence, we all need and exist in relationship. I don’t think to problem is that people aren’t self-reliant, I think it is that too many people are incapable of real, healthy relationship to others. Plenty of people withdraw into themselves and are what one might call self-reliant, but they are miserable, unable to connect with others, unable to live to the full potential that they, as human beings created by God, should be able to.

  15. I coming in rather late (I clicked on the article and then got distracted for several days), but you are spot on. Youth suicide is quite prevalent and there has probably been one successful suicide in my district (medium size) every year for the last few years. One thing I’ve always hated is they try to cover up the tragedy with lots of “pick-me-ups” or “wow-modern-life-is-great-isn’t-its” or “if-you-need-help-just asks”; in other words they try to cover up the truth of the problem by making signs saying “FoCo Strong” and putting up artificial compliments up on the walls by the water fountains (both real examples).
    Walker Percy was right. All modern men must escape from being non-suicides to ex-suicides (Lost in the Cosmos).

  16. Metaphysically, the idea of nonexistence of God must be logically followed by suicide, which is the reason most modern “philosophers” have battled with the suicidal thoughts. No surprise that in the society that idea of God is being eliminated suicides increase.

  17. So obviously I’m quite late in the conversation, but this caught my eye because I’m one of the dreaded “mental health professionals” who provides suicide prevention education in schools and elsewhere. I’m also a Christian and I believe that the work I do is valuable, and that God may well have used my work to protect and promote life throughout the 5 years I’ve been in this field. I agree with the author that things like moral decay, purposelessness and broken families raise the risk for suicide, but I strongly disagree with the idea that education about suicide prevention is the enemy. In fact, one of the things I talk about at almost every training is that research shows that protective factors that keep young people safe from suicide include religious beliefs that discourage suicide and promote life.

    It is a new field, but studies do, in fact, show, that presented in the right way, educating people (including teenagers – I don’t know of anyone in my field who actually goes around talking to 5 year olds) can give them permission to reach out for help rather than allowing fleeting suicidal thoughts to silently turn into plans that turn into actions. Certainly, you do not want to do presentations in an auditorium to a large group, use any language that glorifies or glamorizes suicide, or talk about methods of doing it. You do want to let kids know, on a small group level with room for discussion, that if they or a friend are thinking about suicide, they need to tell a trusted adult now. If you notice a student giving away his stuff or googling how to kill himself, have a conversation, and if you suspect suicide, ask him if he’s thinking about it. It won’t make him think “I wasn’t, but since you mention it, great idea!” but it might make him think, “Wow, someone actually cares and isn’t embarrassed to talk to me about this.” I can’t tell you how many times I have had people (adults) email or call me after a training saying that a student either let them know that a friend had been talking about suicide, cutting themselves, etc., or that the training had given them the awareness and courage to ask a loved one if they were thinking about suicide, and then help that person through a crisis.

    I get that the entire field of mental health is new, needs a great deal more time and research to become more effective, and that it is indeed fraught with some unfortunate and very real failings. But it is not the enemy, and suicide prevention education is certainly not the enemy. When we vilify people who are trying to preserve life it perpetuates the idea that we should continue to keep silent on the issues of suicide and mental illness and work instead on sewing up the moral fabric of our society, which is a great idea but not a great solution for the kid (or adult) who is thinking about suicide today.

    This is also a personal issue for me, as I lost my brother to suicide and afterwards, battled depression myself. I would encourage you to be compassionate towards people who have encountered these issues. Unfortunately, sometimes personal experiences can drive people to be passionate in a way that comes out as unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean their entire message is inaccurate, or that they are evil. We are all fallible and in great need of God’s grace. It’s not an excuse for those who might be giving out bad information, but neither is it a reason to discount an entire field of study that could (and I believe it can) do a lot of good.

  18. The problem with psychology/psychiatry is its tendency to define “normal” as what most people do or, if a motive must be applied, that which results in the most successful transmission of your traits to succeeding generations. I don’t want to get too heavily into the details here, but let’s take one of the holy grails of secularism–game theory–and push it to its logical extreme (one which admittedly few therapists would choose to take this far). You have a young man with a college degree, two wonderful kids, and a lovely wife who is working on a cure for cancer. He sees a frail old maid about to be hit by a car and rushes into the street to push her out of the way at the cost of his own life. Was this a beautiful and holy thing, representing the Christian ideal of “No greater love than this–that a man lay down his life for his friend” or was it a stupid, selfish, wasteful, meaningless thing? One person says this man achieved “Transcendence”, a concept from Maslovian psychology that is compatible with Christianity and which has a concept–if you will–of sainthood. Another would say he was stupid to indulge his squeamishness when he should have been around to help the most people…regret her death, yes, and hope it was a relatively quick and painless one, but after all it was about her time. Another would say they didn’t believe in a god (their lower case, not mine) or life after death, but this is a sign of transhumanism, where enlightened self interest achieves the pinnacle of trusting serving others to end up somehow meeting your own needs by others serving you. So they would say you can have a sort of heaven without the need for a God (my upper case, not theirs). This tension among three poles is what prevents psychiatry and psychology from doing the most good. It edges us ever so quickly toward the old Soviet Pavlovian view of all mental illness as medical conditions and rejects morality in favor of optimal function. We cannot scientifically demonstrate spiritual values and eternal truths, and yet for science to reject them simply because they cannot be measured in the lab would be as pointless as astrophysics discounting dark matter which makes up 80 percent of the mass in the universe simply for the same reason. Let it never be forgotten that one of the all time great achievements of the ancient Greeks–atomic theory–was dismissed out of hand by Aristotle, the father of “show me the money” objectivism, and for that reason it took centuries for the idea to regain credibility. The same thing is happening to the spiritual today, and our children are dying for it.

    • Interesting comment John! You have certainly touched upon what is so dreadful about our thinking, (psychology) today, reductionism, consequentialism, sceinticism etc…. I disagree that we are finding our way back- there seems to me to be a kind of token return by re-imagining the use of transcendent words and at least a lip service to the immaterial, but even these developments are materially reduced. The default position is a denial of interiority and immateriality despite our contradictory words. Education seems to be training us to sit comfortably with cognitive dissonance and find ourselves the more erudite for it. We are surely sacrificing our children at the alter of progress and material success.

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