The suicide rate among children ages 10 to 14 almost tripled from 2007 until 2017, according to new federal data, while the suicide rate for older teenagers has increased by an astonishing 76 percent in the same time period.
Overall, the suicide rate among those aged 10 to 24 has gone up by 56 percent, a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed.
Dr. Steve Grcevich, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and founder of Key Ministry, told the Family Research Council that he believes there are three “trends” that have led to this issue spiraling out of control.
“When I look at this over the last 10 years, there are three trends that I would identify that I think folks need to look at more closely,” he said. “The first is smartphones. This propensity that kids have to negatively compare themselves to other people is a lot greater when you have access to Instagram and Snapchat.”
There is plenty of research to back up Grcevich’s claim, given data has shown a correlation between excessive smartphone usage and depression.
The next trend, the doctor suggested, is the “emphasis in our culture on sexual expression.
“Rates of suicidal thinking and behavior increased dramatically when teens start to violate sexual boundaries,” Grcevich explained. “When we’re looking at data, … teenagers who had sexual contact with a member of the same sex and or and opposite sex were 12 times more likely to require medical attention for a suicide attempt compared to those kids who weren’t sexually active. When kids start crossing sexual boundaries.”
“That,” he added, “is oftentimes where we see these large spikes in suicidal behavior.”
Grcevich’s third concern is the trend away from religion in our culture. He made his case by pointing to a recent Pew Research Center survey revealing Americans are increasingly less likely to call themselves Christians.
Today, only 65 percent of American adults refer to themselves as Christians — a 12-point decrease over the past decade.
Data released around the same time, though, has revealed those who actively practice their Christian faith have better mental health. While only 34 percent of people with no faith said they are optimistic about the future, 51 percent of practicing Christians said they feel good about what’s to come.
Similarly, only 29 percent of nonbelievers said they feel “able to accomplish goals,” while 43 percent of practicing Christians said the same.
Today’s millennials, Grcevich said, “are the first generation of Americans in which Christians are in the minority, and I wouldn’t doubt that the situation is even worse for those who are in generation Z.”
“As a parent,” he continued, “one of the things that I would be trying to do is to cultivate the importance of faith in family life — regularly praying together as a family, studying the Bible, [even] serving together.”