We live in troubling times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published heartbreaking statistics about suicide rates among our youth. Suicide rates among children ages 10-14 have nearly tripled from 2007-2017, while those for teenagers ages 15-19 have increased 76%. I know many of our members have been touched by this deepening crisis.
The individual reasons why students tragically take their own lives vary. But, certainly the metanarrative involved is the absence of God-given identity and purpose, resulting in a deprivation of hope—the hope that produces greater resilience to endure mental illness, bullying, addiction, rejection, and the other immediate causes of suicide.
Scripture teaches that our students are made in God’s image and are the objects of God’s extravagant love. As a result, they are infinitely valuable and full of destiny and purpose.
However, our students are often fed simplistic tropes like “follow your heart” and “be true to yourself,” which often leave them abandoned to their own fleeting emotions and ungrounded desires, trying desperately to persuade themselves of their substance.
C.S. Lewis described the problem this way:
What I call my 'self' now is hardly a person at all. It's mainly a meeting place for various natural forces, desires, and fears, etc., some of which come from my ancestors, and some from my education, some perhaps from devils. The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature but from God.
Only God defines, redeems, and develops our true self—the self that was crafted by Him to demonstrate His creativity, character, and kingdom destiny. Those of us in public schools are limited to the extent we can teach these truths, but we are not limited in the extent to which we can live them. Keeping in mind His amazing grace when we fall short, are you modeling for your students a life of godly character and life-giving hope that attracts them to our Father?
As educators, we are in a unique position to positively affect this tragic crisis facing our students. The time may be short to reach this generation. Perhaps you have been placed in your school for such a time as this?
References: Lewis, C.S. BBC Radio Talk: "Beyond Personality -- Mere Men.” Broadcast March, 21, 1944.