2019 | Week of December 9 | Radio Transcript #1337
I apologize at the beginning for a sobering commentary during this season of the year, but I believe the message I’m delivering is too important to sit on it for the next month.
Recently three news articles came to my attention, each dealing with disturbing statistics and trends in our country. The first report is the number of children and young people committing suicide is increasing at an alarming rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Healthy Statistics, the suicide rate among children aged 10 through 14 has nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017, while the suicide rate among older teenagers has increased by 76 percent between 2007 and 2017.
If the age range is expanded to include 10 through 24-year-olds, the suicide rate has increased 56 percent over the last decade, as violent deaths (suicide and homicide) continue to be leading causes of death for that age bracket. In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14, teenagers 15 to 19, and young adults ages 20-24.
The Christian Post online reports that “Alex Crosby, a chief medical officer at the CDC, told CBS News that it’s impossible to nail down any single factor that might be causing the increase in violent deaths among young people,” and that Colleen Carr, director of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, told Medscape Medical News that more research is needed to better understand factors at play in the accelerating suicide rates among youth and young adults in order to bolster prevention efforts.” 
The second disturbing news item is that scientists are warning that children as young as two years old are developing mental health problems “because of smartphones and tablets.” Various news outlets report that US researchers are warning that children as young as two are suffering anxiety and depression because of how much time they spend on smartphones. The same researchers are noting that parents and teachers should do more to curb how long children are online. Studies show that just an hour a day of screen time can make children “less curious, less able to finish tasks, less emotionally stable and lowering their self-control.” Teens are most at risk, but researchers say children under the age of 10 and toddlers’ still developing brains are also affected. 
And the third disturbing report is that life expectancy in the United States is declining and it’s becoming a trend. While other industrialized countries are seeing an increase in life expectancy, we are not. Demographers say the decline is “fueled by a ‘sharp increase in deaths among the working-age population,’” and is possibly attributable to economic stresses that result in mental health issues which are linked to major health problems, drug addictions and overdoses and suicide.
Obviously, an in-depth analysis of these reports is beyond the confines of this commentary. But I believe it well worth mentioning the role of family in all three situations. Research has for decades shown that marriage is good for men and women and that children avoid a host of problems when they are brought up in the homes of their married moms and dads.
This doesn’t mean that children from intact families never commit suicide or never suffer mental health or behavioral issues from being on digital devices too long each day; tragically they do, and we need better parenting even in intact families. It also doesn’t mean married men and women never die at ages younger than the average life-expectancy.
However, the breakdown or the non-formation of married men and women families in our country is well documented. God designed marriage and family as the foundational institution for all of mankind—for His glory and for our good. When God’s Gold Standard for marriage and family is ignored, maligned, and even purposefully deconstructed, we should not be surprised when serious, even tragic, trends begin showing up in any society. You can’t have widespread births to unwed women, no-fault/no-contest divorce, sexual anarchy, legal redefining of marriage and much more and expect a healthy, long-living society. It won’t happen.
Unfortunately, few will connect the dots on these reports. Some will say the science doesn’t support my contention. It does; they just don’t want to connect those dots or admit the truth. Maybe you and I can’t change the world, but we can change our own family—and maybe even our own church. Consider the steps you can take even this month to ensure your loved ones don’t become part of these sobering statistics. Maybe begin with a recommitment to the eternal, infallible Truth of God’s Word.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”