Hara-Kiri

America's youth suicide rate is at a 60-year high

Chinese parents impose excessive scholastic demands on their children, who become obsessed to the point of suicide if they fail to pass a course of study. In China, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death and accounts for over 25% of all suicides worldwide. Christians are only 2% of its population.

Most Chinese suicide victims are women. The nation’s economic boom has led to greater independence for women, who can now afford to get divorced if they wish. Marriage is not a religious sacrament in China. However, the strain of divorce means women must work long hours while raising their children, often without the support of their families.

Japan’s child suicide rate has hit a 30-year high. One reason is that Japan’s culture for a millennium has ritualized hara-kiri (cutting the belly). Japan had little or no Christian influence before the 1500s, and even today only 1% of the population is Christian. Japan’s godless Buddhism may be a significant factor in the world’s second-highest suicide rate. What’s more, life insurance there usually pays out even if suicide is the cause of death, unlike in western Christian cultures that long considered suicide and euthanasia a sin. Japanese elderly men do it as a charitable option to benefit their family. Other factors are low employment, fear of marriage commitment, social isolation, video gaming, and pornography.

America has been de-Christianized in the last 50 years, mainly from the detrimental spiritual effects of wealth and its trappings. The high priests of science promise disease-free, pain-free immortality, facelifts, implants, and lifelong endless pleasure. The Hollywood masters of illusion titillate us to sensual imaginings.

Our worship of rampant consumerism and sensual gratification seems to be a dominant factor in the dramatic increase in American youth committing suicide. Social media has increased isolation and depression. JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) reports the youth suicide rate for Americans ages 15 to 24 has reached the highest level since the 1960s: 6,200 victims in 2017. For girls and young women, suicide rates have roughly doubled since 2000. More Vietnam veterans have died from suicide than were killed in that futile war. LGBT youth suicide has more than tripled in the same time period.

Because of Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and after a nervous breakdown at Yale graduate school, I missed my finals. I then suffered a suicidal bout, depressed that I could not fulfill my parents’ ambitions for me. My Catholic upbringing stilled my trembling hands. Without a thorough Christian upbringing, I would not be alive today to offer these reflections on why America’s children― at alarming rates ― are committing hara-kiri.

 

Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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