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EDITORIAL: Save the future by fixing our soul

Gazette - 6/11/2024

Real medicine eases symptoms, searches for the cause and attempts a cure. To treat the mental health crisis, we should examine society’s soul and determine how to fix it.

Children are the future and our children are mentally ill in record numbers. That makes our future mentally ill, unless we fix it.

As explained in this space Monday, Colorado attorney General Phil Weiser announced he will invest $20 million from the state’s $32 million settlement from Big Vape (Juul) to fund mental health services for youths. While treating symptoms, the state should also seek causes and a cure.

Suicide rates for people between ages of 10 and 24 nearly doubled nationally from 5.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 to 11 last year. For children 10 to 14, the suicide rate tripled from 2007 to 2019, going from 0.9 to 2.9 per 100,000 people. Colorado consistently ranks among states with the 10-highest suicide rates.

Resolving this should be the highest priority of philanthropy, religious institutions, schools, and our state, federal, regional and local governments. It is a life-and-death concern no less existential and imminent than climate change or war.

As Nelson Mandela implored, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Record numbers of youth suicides suggest our country's soul is poisoned.

In a culture with an ailing soul, greedy profiteers hook children on nicotine with no crisis of conscience. This makes vape settlement funds highly appropriate for addressing the mental health crisis. The money will complement millions in donations from at least 10 Colorado private foundations, including Gazette Charities.

The vaping, depression, drugs and suicides are mere manifestations of something deeper: Too many of our children have no hope, and therefore live only in the moment.

In early grades, students typically hear a lie that says climate change will destroy life on earth before they reach high school, giving them no reason to learn and plan for their futures.

Children are stripped of self-acceptance and a sense of self worth by adults who categorize them in groups defined by genetics, ethnicity or gender identity. Some are told these identities make them “victims” of classmates who were conceived as “oppressors.”

Of course, Children are depressed. They are made to feel like casualties of circumstances they cannot control, as they trudge through life on a planet their parents and grandparents purportedly trash with reckless disregard. Even the young “oppressors” are victims, as they feel guilt for the way they were made.

Today, about 19 million children live in single-parent homes. That compares to 1.5 million in 1950. A record-setting 2.5 million children live homeless. About 40% are born outside of marriage, up from 28% in 1990.

With so many challenges, a solid family — whether led by one or two parents — provides the best chance for a child to grow up healthy and balanced.

“The family is the basis of society. As the family is, so is the society, and it is human beings who make a family — not the quantity of them, but the quality of them,” said former Harvard Professor and British-American liberal anthropologist Ashley Montagu.

Exactly. No one can prove cause in this equation, but we should take something from the correlation of rising mental health problems with growing family dysfunction, institutional obsessions with alarmist climate change prophesies, and dehumanizing identity politics.

We must treat individual cases of mental illness thoroughly and immediately. Yet, beyond triage we must focus on the underlying cause. We should find a way to stop it where it starts. No child of any background should suffer — not in a country with a loving, caring and healthy soul.


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