Someone commits suicide every eighteen minutes in the United States. While the suicide rate for middle-aged people has declined steeply since 1950, the suicide rate for young people has more than doubled . . . the suicide rate for children under 14 has doubled just since 1980. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15-24. (Generation Me, p. 108)
Only 1-2% of Americans born in 1915 experienced a major depressive episode during their lifetimes, even though they lived through the Great Depression and two world wars. Today, the lifetime rate of major depression is ten times higher—between 15-20%. Some studies put the figure closer to 50% . . . . These studies use a fairly strict definition, counting only depression severe enough to warrant medication or long-term therapy. (Generation Me, p. 105)
Our grandparents may have done without television and gone to the bathroom in an outhouse, but they were usually not lonely, scared by threats of terrorism, or obsessed about the best way to get into Princeton…we have more but feel worse. Technology and material things may make life easier, but they do not seem to lead to happiness. Instead, we long for the social connections of past years, we enter a confusing world of too many choices, and we become depressed at younger and younger ages. (p. 136)
What are the contributing factors? The author points to 5 major areas: Loneliness and Isolation; Stresses of College Admission and the Job Market; The New Economics; Higher Expectations; and the [new] Dangers and Threats of a 21st century world. Loneliness and isolation stood out to me. Dr. Twenge notes:
Loneliness and Isolation – “there is a kind of famine of warm interpersonal relationships, of easy-to-reach neighbors, of encircling inclusive memberships, and of solid family life…almost half of Generation Me has seen their parents’ divorce, (see Between Two Worlds, the Inner Lives of Children of Divorce) or have never known a father at all.” (110-111) … [Older generations] “had strong feelings of community; they knew the same people all their lives; and they married young and stayed married. It may not have been exciting… but it was a stable life that avoided the melancholy that is so common now”. (116)
Despite all the happy go lucky, “hakuna matata” mantra, GenMe is sad. A smiling face hides a sad heart! Will the Church provide the answer of community along with answers to the other issues? We were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The Christian God is a tri-unity of persons who has eternally existed in other-centered felicitous Oneness. We cannot thrive as human beings apart from relationship with Him and with one another. We were made to commune.
Oh great Three-in-One, draw us into your Oneness and unify your church that the world may know!