Warning: This post contains sensitive material pertaining to suicide.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Tuesday evening I got a very alarmed text message from my friend.
She sent me a link to a news story about a place we visited over the weekend: Hudson Yards, a popular new tourist attraction in New York City.
You’ve probably seen it – there’s a beautiful mall, with an impressive architectural art piece: a 150 foot high, massive beehive-looking structure, called the Vessel, where visitors can climb the interactive steps and platforms, rewarded by sweeping vistas of the Hudson River and the iconic Midtown skyline.
On Tuesday, authorities closed it after a young man ended his life, jumping from the top of the Vessel.
When my friend sent me this, at first, I thought she had mistakenly seen an old article. Because the same heartbreaking tragedy happened over Christmas – in fact, I wrote about about it right here on the blog, the victim being part of the online eating disorder recovery community.
But doing some reacherch, I was heartsick to learn that, no, this was yet another horrific incident. The third suicide at the Vessel, just this year.
But here’s where the real gut wrenching information comes into play.
The ages of the three victims: 19, 21 and 24.
19. 21. 24.
So young. So, tragically young.
All members of GenZ. Each one, having made the decision that their only option was one of cold, finality. May they all rest in Jesus’ eternal peace.
I was gutted, thinking about their families, their friends, classmates. The news stuck with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it: how these young children felt they had no other way out. No other option. No help. No one to turn to.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, behind only accidents. And in the past decade, suicide rates have spiked drastically – up 60%. (Time). Sixty percent.
And thinking and praying and thinking and praying, all I could think about was, “Where have we gone so terribly, terribly wrong?“
The lyrics from a popular song a couple years ago goes like this: “I know my life don’t even matter. I know it. I know I’m hurtin’ deep down, but can’t show it. I never had a place to call my own. I never had a home. Nobody callin’ my phone.” – 1-800-273-8255 by Logic
Where have we gone so terribly wrong.
Very few things rattle me anymore, but this certainly did. And my thoughts have been all-consumed by this crisis among our young people. The future generation that we’re supposed to be nurturing and fostering into sound and faithful men and women who will change the world.
And I had some very intense thoughts, which raised some pretty heavy questions that, instead of sitting here harping on, I will just leave you with to consider for yourself.
What is the impact of social media on Gen Z?
Gen Z: The current 10-24 year olds, who grew up with the internet in their pocket or on their wrist. With their life broadcast to the world wide web. The generation that grew up with TikTok, where kids post provocative dances to songs like, “WAP” — standing for “Wet A$$ P*$$y” (excuse my crude french), or other songs proclaiming to “F*** the Police.”
What does the social pressure of online presence do to an adolescent? When peer perception is the ultimate concern, what impact do Instagram “likes” or TikTok “views” have on their feeling of self worth? It’s no longer just having a place in the lunchroom: it’s having a place on the global internet.
What is the impact of such a fiercely competitive cultural structure on Gen Z?
The kids who’ve faced fierce competition to even get into the elite preschools, let alone Ivy Leagues. We’ve seen celebrities like Laurie Laughlin have to serve jail time after committing felonies to get her daughter into “a good school.” What message does that send? We’re making the “be all, end all” be a practically unattainable standard, where the bar is way out of reach. (And don’t get me started on air brushed models.) How would you cope?
What is the impact of the sexually pervasive nature of our culture?
I read the other day that the average age of a child’s first interaction with porn is 11 years old. Eleven! That dehumanization of a person – what does that do to how teens view their own worth? Or the recent explosion of “OnlyFans” – where “everyday” young women sell explicit content to monthly subscribers on the Internet. What is the price of devaluing and commodifying young women, and then celebrating it?
What is the impact of a non-stable home life?
I’ll just say this: the family dinner is a lost art. And it’s a cryin shame. Two-parent households, with the stability of knowing that you’ll come together at the end of the day to debrief and be “loved on” – that is invaluable to a child’s development. Even during adolescence, when all a parent may get is a grunt, or a “yeah, uh-huh.” The stability in knowing that foundation of family is there is priceless. I don’t have to preach about the prevalence of divorce – that’s sadly a statistic we can see in our everyday lives.
What impact has the glorification of gender nonconformity had on our teens?
This is, for me, the biggest one. And yes, I know – most controversial. But what happens when we instill doubt in who an adolescent is at their very core? What is the impact of identity confusion, during adolescence, when they’re carving out who they are in the world? What are the ramifications of a media and culture that glorify those that push boundaries and normalize and celebrate that which is biologically and biblically unsound?
What is the impact of shows like “Thirteen Reasons Why?”
Thirteen Reasons Why – the wildly popular teenage drama on Netflix about a high school girl who commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen tapes, each with a reason why she took her own life. I have written about the despicable negligence of such highly triggering content. And for good reason. The book and the series has been banned from numerous schools after a rash of copycat student suicides. In fact, one of the the Vessel suicides cited “Thirteen Reasons” in her suicide note. What does the glorification and romanticization of suicide have on our teens?
Lastly, and most importantly, how has our culture’s rejection of God and faith affected Gen Z?
Here’s the thing about all of these aforementioned questions: it’s damn near impossible to navigate such tumultuous waters with a faith life. Imagine doing it without a firm foundation of faith — or even sound morality — to draw from. Rejecting God is also rejecting His love. And I can’t think of a more dark or dire existence than one without having His hope and His love to dwell on in times of struggle.
So, basically, TLDR, being a young person in today’s modern “woke” society… it seems incredibly difficult, if not downright volatile. I do not envy such a connected, fast childhood. I’ll the take the creek and the sticks I grew up playing with…(in the 2000’s).
But one thing’s for sure: the loss of these three lives is truly tragic. I pray that Jesus help shoulder the heavy burden of sorrow that their loved ones will now carry for the rest of their lives. And I pray that they find the peace with Jesus that they were searching for here on earth. May God bless their souls, and may God strengthen our Gen Z here on earth. May they hear His call, and invite Him into the chaos of our modern and troubling existence.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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