Why are suicides surging in America? There is no easy answer to that question, but there are some important clues. Some of the answers have been put forth by the latest CDC reports. We do have a number of deaths of despair that result from intended suicides as well as from opioid overdoses. And we also see suicides that have increased among our veterans that show the relationship between military combat and PTSD.
But there are social, intellectual, and spiritual reasons for the increased number of suicides. In her article in Intellectual Takeout, Annie Holmquist wonders what is driving this mentality of despair. She reminds us that half of the people who commit suicide do not have a “known mental health condition.” That is why looking at other issues is so important.
She takes us back to the seminal book by University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. Even back in 1988, when the book was published, Bloom saw a stark difference between the college students of that day and those just a few years before. They were “superficial” and continually indulged in “clichés.” They didn’t reason on a deeper level and were disenchanted with the world.
Believe me, if that was true of the college students in the 1980s, it is really true of the current generation of young people. They have grown up in a world of memes and clichés. They came of age in a world that long abandoned moral values. The recent discussion about D-Day and the Greatest Generation led many to suggest that the current generation might not be up to such challenges.
Sadly, this generation is growing up without an appeal to moral and biblical values. They don’t have anything to live for because they don’t believe anything would be worth dying for. Suicide becomes an option when life is sterile, superficial, and soulless.