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June 14, 2019

Suicide Rises in a Culture of Despair

Lost faith, broken families, and sedentary living are just some of the causes of tragedy.

Statistics show that young people are not only more hopeless than ever before but also view drug abuse or even suicide as a way to escape from a world where no one seems to be reaching out to them.

Increasingly, they’re choosing death as an escape.

A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund reveals that we’ve reached an all-time high in deaths from suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol abuse. From 2005 to 2017, these deaths rose an eye-popping 450% in West Virginia alone. Other states experiencing a surge include Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Suicide is an unspeakable tragedy, but now some countries are actually allowing teenagers to choose death even if they’re not terminally ill. Just this past week, 17-year-old Noa Pothoven died of self-starvation with her consenting parents by her side. The victim of two rapes at the age of 14, Pothoven wrote a best-selling book at 16 and had a strong support network of friends. And yet this adolescent girl was allowed to choose death over life.

Dutch law allows children as young as 12 to choose euthanasia in order to escape their emotional, psychological, or physical pain. All a child needs for a suicide request to be granted is the permission of a parent or guardian. At 16, consultation isn’t even required. Pothoven’s request was actually denied, but no one did anything to stop her either.

How could a seemingly modern, civilized country allow a young person to die in such a manner? And could this callousness come to America?

Thomas McArdle writes at Issues & Insights, “There is a seeming distinction between Holland’s euthanasia and assisted suicide statutes and those in the U.S., most infamously Oregon, in that you don’t have to be dying or in physical pain for the Dutch government to help you kill yourself.”

McArdle adds, “The logic is there, ready and waiting, to extend legal assisted suicide to those not terminally ill and in no physical discomfort.”

Proponents of assisted suicide claim that they’re respecting individual autonomy. Yet Richard M. Doerflinger rightly argues for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The assisted suicide campaign is not based on autonomy. It is based on a view that some human lives have less value, are less worth protecting, than others. By legalizing assisted suicide for one selected class of vulnerable citizens, society makes its own judgment that some people’s suicidal wishes are inherently reasonable and justifiable.” This is what Doerflinger calls false freedom and the culture of death.

The Daily Signal’s Rachel del Guidice adds, “A callousness to the value of life is on full display in situations coming out of Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and other countries. The trajectory of countries that enshrine death as a right, both at the beginning and end of life, should force this country to think twice about the path we want to take.”

Sadly, that seems to be where we’re headed. In New York State, abortion is permitted up until birth. In Toronto, a hospital released a physician-assisted suicide plan for children, including a provision that parents may not be notified until after the child has died. In Belgium, doctors may terminate the life of any child of any age who makes a request.

In the U.S., the group Compassion & Choices is embarking on an aggressive agenda to ensure that the right-to-die movement becomes accepted medical practice. One of their objectives is to block “efforts by the American Medical Association to reaffirm an oppositional policy.”

But what’s causing so many young people to feel as though they don’t have a way out? After all, even without assisted-suicide laws, more Americans than ever are either deliberately committing suicide or are overdosing on drugs or alcohol to the point of death.

A few years ago, human behavior specialist Dr. Gail Gross wrote in the Huffington Post that poor parenting is one reason why so many Millennials are unable to cope with life. Gross explains, “When children are so pampered and protected that they don’t get to try things out and test themselves against their environment, then they have a problem growing up, making decisions, and coping with stress. … As a result, some of these millennials feel paralyzed, dependent, and incapable of action, reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.”

But helicopter parents are only part of the problem. Other issues include the fact that we’re living in a post-Christian nation, where the belief in something greater than ourselves and the hope of eternal life are somehow unappealing, even unfashionable. Given the breakdown of the American family, the sedentary and digitally immersed world of teenagers, and the ever-growing sense of entitlement among our youth, is it any wonder that our kids feel like they have nothing to live for?

All the mental-health facilities in the world won’t save people from choosing death over life. Our world is changing, and it’s changing fast. If we stand idly by while this culture of death sweeps across so-called civilized nations, the carnage will only continue.

On a final, more hopeful note, marriage, family, and faith make a huge difference. That’s worth sharing.

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