Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are the main reasons, noted by teens interviewed after attempting suicide. Rejection or bullying by peers or feeling unloved by parents are what led many of them to feel like the only way to escape was to end their life.
With the start of another year, schools are rethinking the way they offer health services at campuses across Canada. They want to give students access not only to professionals who can address physical needs but also those who can help them with mental challenges.
These steps may lead to stemming the tide. And, there’s one more thing officials working on this issue might do if they want to use all the resources available to help youth – that is, pay attention to their spiritual or religious foundation.
Research has found that religious involvement is important in preventing youth depression and suicide. This finding now opens ways for spirituality to be included in addressing the helplessness and hopelessness that leads to suicide.
Whether a young person comes from a more traditional faith background or a “spiritual but not religious” standpoint, developing a deeper understanding of the Divine that is unconditional love, constant companionship, and the bearer of all good can bring increased hope to how they see their present and their future.
The Bible supports this idea with this promise: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11 NLT)
The idea that we can find a solution to despair and emotional pain by turning to God is the essence of the parable of the “the lost son” (the “Prodigal” to many Bible readers). When the young man – having wasted his inheritance with unsavoury living and finding himself hungry and desperate with no one who would help him – casts about for solutions, suicide isn’t the answer. What comes to him is to return to his “father”. The father accepts his return with nothing but love – no recrimination, just unconditional love – and the son is restored to the family in every way.
This story may have been written thousands of years ago, but it’s relevant today. In this analogy, the son could be any troubled teen; the father represents God. Jesus told this story to show that no one is ever helpless, hopeless, or unloved! God, as infinite love, is always present to help in any circumstance.
A future and a hope. That’s what a relationship with the Divine offers teens – and anyone.
This article can be read in Metroland Media news sites. Read here in Inside Halton (Milton, Burlington, Oakville)