In the light of the sad news related suicide, I want to speak out about it. Last month, four of our own youth took their lives in just two weeks in the city of Rancho Cucamonga. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rancho-cucamonga-suicides-20180823-story.html As a priest, I am in pain because this is happening in our neighborhood. As a shepherd, I have many sheep under my care and I am very worried about their physical and spiritual well-being. The most shocking aspect of this tragic trend is that it seems that nobody was aware of the suffering of their children, not even parents. The lack of skills of our youth to deal with stressful situations like bullying, unhealthy competition in school, rivalry, gangs, and peer and parental pressure are taking a toll. We are educating a new generation that has a hard time adapting to the new challenges and paradigms that the same society is creating and promoting: be successful no matter what.
Even though we know that communication is key in the family dynamics, some dysfunctional aspects of a relationship (vices, apathy, and indifference, just to name a few) are hitting hard the very core of our society, which is the family. Although media and technology are meant to unite us, it is actually dividing us instead. We see that the values of the family are undermined by the influence of media like the consumption of TV shows and internet. Teens are watching more and more online shows like 13 Reasons why? http://observer.com/2018/02/netflixs-13-reasons-why-linked-suicide-increase/movies and other means of entertainment are more prevalent now than ever. Shows like this one portrays profane language, excessive drug and alcohol use, homosexuality, empty friendships, bullying, violence, graphic sex, and suicide. Suicide is idealized and put it as a “reasonable” solution for the problems our teens could have. We have to help form the consciences of our youth. That is why I emphasize the importance of parents being involved in their faith formation. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1Tim 4,12
Also, We see how technology is breaking us apart; there is less and less human direct interaction and communication among new generations. Moreover, our kids are playing less than we did. I am posting some links related to research that has shown the importance of human interaction from an early age. A lacking of playing time could cause negative consequences. The very fact of playing is very important for human development: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/children-spend-only-half-the-time-playing-outside-as-their-parents-didhttps://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/all-work-and-no-play-why-your-kids-are-more-anxious-depressed/246422/http://time.com/4928925/secret-power-play/
As our new generations are too wired for their own good, we are missing many parts of the equation including the place of God in their own lives. “Legally” we took God out of our schools, we gave the right to kill the innocent (Roe vs. Wade). Freedom of religion is threatened and now we complain about what is happening. Certainly, our society is going in the wrong direction, but what are we doing to be part of the solution?
I think that the first thing we can do is to talk about sensitive issues and always have effective ways to communicate. In a world full of violence our peace of mind connected with our prayer life, our personal relationship with God, will help us to discern and apply new strategies to help our youth. Resources are available in our Church and outside our Church. I offer myself as a resource through the emergency phone line of the parish: (909)4773362
As we can see in the news, this is not an American problem is a global problem. Challenges and games are also influencing our youth to take their own lives. Our duty is to prevent this from happening. http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/09/03/viral-momo-suicide-game-blamed-for-deaths-boy-16-and-girl-12-reports-say.html Mental illness and disorders are on the rise and it is probably because our society is sick. We are sleeping less and playing less. Our quality in our relationships is not the best. We are just scratching the surface instead of digging deep into our relationships. We are called to a closer relationship within the family in with God as well. We need the healing power of the Lord. We ask in our prayers that the Holy Spirit help us during this time of trouble.
We keep praying for the grieving families of these kids and for their eternal rest. May the Lord have mercy on them.