In 2016, I penned an article addressing the HUGE issue of teen suicide. At that writing, 5 of my children’s peers had died by suicide. Over the years this number jumped to more than 10 and as of this week, we are up to 15 or more!
Our Kids are NOT ALRIGHT!
In my original post (highlights below), I mentioned several contributors to suicide among teens and young adults, along with some ideas for support. Today, our world has only gotten worse. Our kids are not alright because
Our world is not alright!
THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ALRIGHT!
We are living in a nation that has been at war with itself over a division that increases every time we find (or someone convinces us there is) something new to fight about. The list is endless:
- Women’s Reproductive Rights.
Add to this a dying economy, a dying republic, the death of democratic process, a dying healthcare system, a long past dead education system (by no fault of the educators), the increasing separation between the haves and the have nots and the decreasing accessibility to meaningful work with a sustainable wage, all while trying to navigate the ever-changing (and volatile) waters of a global pandemic.
No wonder our kids are anxious, panicked, and depressed!
Our kids are not alright, and if we believe they are, we’re fooling ourselves. I personally have no idea how to respond to the dying world, except to let it die and hope that something better will be coming forth out of the ash. But our kids deserve so much more than what our world has become. They also deserve more consideration than what we have been giving them. Is this the kind of world we want to leave our children? Don’t they deserve more than a nation always at war with itself and each other? Don’t they deserve what we once thought of as the “American Dream?” Can we just for this moment worry less about whether wearing masks are an infringement on our personal freedoms and more about our children and what they might need to feel safe in this very uncertain world?
Lauri Ann Lumby is the mother of two young adults who have seen too many of their peers die by suicide. Lauri is also a professional spiritual counselor to has supported those suffering loss and mentored individuals on the journey of self-actualization since 1995. Lauri can be reached directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlights from 2016 post:
This week, another one of my daughter’s classmates committed suicide. This young woman is the fifth in a graduating class of 200-some students to commit suicide. Something here is wrong. Very wrong…..
The problem, and the reason our kids are not alright is: Our world.
Our world is a mess. Our world is a mess for all of us – and for some of us, it is just too much to bear. Let’s look at the facts:
- For as long as our children have been alive, THE WORLD HAS BEEN AT WAR.
If it’s not a conflict or a war with a name, (Desert Storm, Iraqi, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, etc. etc. etc.) it is “the war on terrorism.” And the worst of all the terrorist attacks have been accomplished right here on our own soil by our own U.S. citizens. The media does not help in this regard by triggering our fears through sensationalism. As my son said, “Hundreds of people a year are shot in Chicago and no one cares, but as soon as one guy gets shot in Oshkosh, the whole world is in a state of panic.” (This also points to media and racial bias which is a topic for another blog another day.)
For our children – the world does not feel safe.
- In the U.S. success is determined by external measurements like money, status, power and fame. And some of these measurements are literal – how much money you make, how many time you are Tweeted or your Facebook post gets “liked,” if you have your own reality show or not, and do you measure up to the current standards of “beauty.” For those who do not know their true selves and who have no way of knowing themselves except in comparison to others, success feels like an impossible goal – especially when they look at the TRUTH of our economic situation – which brings me to #3
- Education does not mean what it used to. In the old days, a high school education was enough to prepare you for a regular job with a decent rate of pay. Then, college became the necessary gateway to a career, a paycheck and economic security. Then, a master’s degree became the gateway, then a PhD. Now….none of this really matters – and our children know this. A college degree guarantees you nothing, or as a friend of mine told her daughter, “Do what you love because there won’t be any jobs for you after college anyway.” Bleak, but true. As much as politicians are touting the economic recovery and that the “recession is over,” this is not the truth.
- The world as we know it is dying. Our children know this and they know that they will be the ones who will be creating the new world. For some, this is just too overwhelming a task. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a player in the Hunger Games and the entire world (as you have known it) crumbles at your feet and you are left with the task of building the new world. While the endless possibilities and the excitement of building something new is enticing for some, for others, it is overwhelming and feels impossible and they shut down under the burden of the task.
- And finally….this is the whoo whoo part…..our children are empaths. What this means is that not only are they feeling their own anxiety in the face of a world that is a mess, they are feeling EVERYONE ELSE’S anxiety. They feel the anxiety of their parents, their siblings, their classmates, their teachers, and the entire world around them. When there is a terrorist attack on the other side of the world, they feel it – maybe not consciously, but they feel it. When a weather system is moving through that will cause people anxiety, they know it – again, maybe not consciously, but they feel it. For those that don’t understand the gift of empathy and who don’t have tools for managing this gift, the emotions come out sideways – temper tantrums, disproportionate negative behavior, anxiety, depression – and you guessed it, suicide.
Which brings me full-circle. I don’t know what caused that young woman to jump off the bridge into a freezing and raging river to her death. What I do know is that her death is another wake up call for us as parents, teachers, and other adults.
Our children need our help. While we cannot change the outside world, there are things we can do to help our children, and in helping them, find help for ourselves in a messy and broken down world:
- Lead them to resources to help them manage anxiety. Resources that have been proven to help manage anxiety include: meditation, mindfulness, regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate and deep sleep, creativity exercises, being in nature, being with others in healthy community interactions.
- Support them in knowing their TRUE selves. Self-knowledge increases self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to be ok with our differences in a world of great diversity.
- Help them develop a different set of values. This starts with us. We need to stop valuing ourselves in terms of money, fame, status, power, and physical characteristics. What we are wearing, whose bag we are carrying and what car we are driving DOES NOT MATTER. These external measurements of “success” or “popularity” do not give us happiness. In fact, all they do is create more ANXIETY. If we want our children to be comfortable in a world that will NOT have the resources in which everyone can be a Kardashian, we have to help them find value in the internals – peace, contentment, joy, and fulfillment in knowing and exercising their gifts. We then need to give them tools for finding this inner peace which leads us back to items 1 and 2.
- Support them in their dreams. Our children see and know the new world. They see a world that is free from the separation with which we have defined the world. Instead of separation, they see only oneness. They do not comprehend the separation we keep placing between ourselves and others we view as different from us. Our children do not see race, religion, sexual orientation, or even gender as barriers, they only see this as the miraculous and amazing diversity among human beings and they seek to know more and to honor these differences. Let’s get out of the way and let them do this, shall we!?
- Teach them what to do with Empathy. This is where the whoo whoo community can help. Empaths are healers and those with this gift (all of our children) possess this gift because they are here to heal our dying world so that a healthier and happy world can emerge. Our children need to know what to do with these feelings and how to stop taking responsibility for everyone else’s pain. Interestingly, this also brings us back to items 1 and 2.
While we cannot change the world, we can change the world in which we are living and the journey starts within. Let us join together to help our children, and in helping our children, helping ourselves so that we can survive in a world in the midst of change and through our children’s dreams, help to support the birth of a new and better world. Then perhaps these children would not have died in vain.
Authentic Freedom Academy provides empowerment training for those who want to change their world, which starts by changing the world within.
2 thoughts on “Our Kids Are Not Alright – 2022 Edition”
You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your wholeness. LeaAnne
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Thank you LeaAnne!
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