CHAPTER 88 WHY ARE OUR TEENAGERS KILLING THEMSELVES?
American Life League

Life, it seems, will fade away; drifting further every day. Getting lost within myself; nothing matters, no one else. I have lost the will to live; simply nothing more to give. There is nothing more for me; need the end to set me free.

                                                                                   Metallica, "Fade to Black."[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

Easily available contraception and abortion are just part of the progressive and socially responsible philosophy of 'live and let live.' With unlimited freedom to do anything they want to, and with unlimited opportunities for self-actualization, our children and therefore society will naturally be much happier when freed from artificial restraints and the strictures imposed upon them by outmoded religious dogma.

Introduction.

There is no doubt that our children are much freer than at any other time in history. However, the anti-life philosophy makes the unsupported assumption that unlimited freedom is a societal good.

This chapter examines and challenges this very basic assumption.

The Causes of Teenage Suicide.

What Have We Lost?

To begin with, we must look at the changing causes of teenage suicide since 1960, which is the period during which society has experienced its most rapid changes in history.

It is obvious that abortion-related effects are only part of the overall problem, which is the total loss of objective standards and values in our society. We have come to believe that anything new is good, that anything old is bad, and that any change at all is 'progress.' We have also accepted 'situational ethics,' which holds that any behavior at all may be justified in certain circumstances. The Ten Commandments have been thrown out or modified beyond recognition into a set of idealistic guidelines that only the 'most perfect' human beings can aspire to.

The Effects of Too-Rapid Change.

Our teenagers are experiencing the ultimate in "anomic" societies. The French sociologist Emile Durkheim described such a society as one where the previous set of social institutions have broken down or have changed so rapidly that people feel confused about the direction society is taking, and are unsure about their own places in such societies. A more classical definition would be a society in which concrete standards of conduct and belief are weak or lacking; in other words, the situational ethicist's dream, where freedom is complete and everyone can decide for himself what is right or wrong.

Simply stated, society's rate of change has exceeded the human species' ability to keep up.

Durkheim, in his studies at the turn of the century, found suicide rates in anomic societies to be much higher than those in stable societies.

In a single generation, our country has experienced;

• a relentless campaign to discredit and erode the 'traditional' values of responsibility and respect for parental authority;

• a tremendous decline in church attendance (about 40%), and the resulting loss of these values and direction. Furthermore, no institution has arisen to replace the Church in its capacity as moral guide, although the government is making a pretty vigorous attempt to do so;

• a huge increase in divorce and broken families, leading to a fivefold increase in one-parent families;

• a tenfold increase in child abuse, including cases involving sexual molestation;

• an unprecedented era of teenage affluence and mobility;

• an unprecedented level of pressure on teens to perform and produce at a higher level than ever before i.e., they are driven to earlier adulthood with its accompanying pressures;

• redefinition of the traditional concept of happiness to mean a freedom from responsibility and problems and "happiness is what you have, not what you are;"

• virtually unlimited sexual freedom;

• teenagers have unlimited access to contraception and abortion without parental knowledge or consent in many areas; and

• a vast increase in drug availability.

The Teenage Suicide Rate.

The annual number of suicides among teenagers (ages 15 to 19) and young adults (ages 20 to 24) are shown in Figures 88-1 and 88-2. These show that the United States population has increased by 48 percent from 1960 to 1990, and the age group 15-24 suicide rate has increased an astronomical 407 percent. This means that the suicide rate for young people has increased at a rate of more than EIGHT TIMES THE POPULATION GROWTH!

The actual rate of increase of teenaged suicide per 100,000 population is shown in Figure 88-3.

FIGURE 88-1
ANNUAL SUICIDES AMONG TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1960-1990

GRAPH NOT AVAILABLE

References. (1) United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. Table 13, "Total Population, By Age and Sex: 1960 to 1988." Table 125, "Suicide Rates, By Sex, Race, and Age Group: 1970 to 1986." (2) Office of Educational Research and Improvement, United States Department of Education. Youth Indicators: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth (published every two years). Indicator 45, "Causes of Death."

FIGURE 88-2
COMPARISON OF ANNUAL RATES OF INCREASE, UNITED STATES POPULATION AND AGE GROUP 15 TO 24 SUICIDES

[A medium text size on your computer's 'view' setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]

             United States
              Population,      Annual Rate       Annual Suicides,       Annual Rate
Year      Ages 15-24      of Increase        Age Group 15-24        of Increase

1960      24,576,000                                           1,139
                                             4.0%                                                       11.0%
1970      36,535,000                                           3,240
                                             1.6%                                                         5.0%
1980      42,743,000                                           5,274
                                           -4.0%                                                         0.9%
1990      36,441,000                                           5,773

Increase, 1960-1990:          48%       Increase, 1960-1990:             407%

                          Suicides in Age Groups
Year                        15-19                 20-24                     Total

1960                           475                    664                     1,139
1965                           670                 1,041                     1,711
1970                        1,141                 2,099                     3,240
1975                        1,433                 2,701                     4,134
1980                        1,799                 3,475                     5,274
1985                        2,234                 3,228                     5,462
1990                        2,775                 2,998                     5,773

Reference: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. Table 13, "Total Population, By Age and Sex: 1960 to 1988." Table 125, "Suicide Rates, By Sex, Race, and Age Group: 1970 to 1986."

FIGURE 88-2
COMPARISON OF ANNUAL RATES OF INCREASE, UNITED STATES POPULATION AND AGE GROUP 15 TO 24 SUICIDES

                United States
                  Population,       Annual Rate      Annual Suicides,     Annual Rate
Year          Ages 15-24       of Increase       Age Group 15-24      of Increase

1960          24,576,000                                          1,139
                                                   4.0%                                                  11.0%
1970          36,535,000                                          3,240
                                                   1.6%                                                    5.0%
1980          42,743,000                                          5,274
                                                  -4.0%                                                    0.9%
1990          36,441,000                                          5,773

Increase, 1960-1990:                48%      Increase, 1960-1990:          407%


                         Suicides in Age Groups
Year                      15-19                   20-24                    Total

1960                        475                        664                    1,139
1965                        670                     1,041                    1,711
1970                     1,141                     2,099                    3,240
1975                     1,433                     2,701                    4,134
1980                     1,799                     3,475                    5,274
1985                     2,234                     3,228                    5,462
1990                     2,775                     2,998                    5,773

Reference: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. Table 13, "Total Population, By Age and Sex: 1960 to 1988." Table 125, "Suicide Rates, By Sex, Race, and Age Group: 1970 to 1986."

FIGURE 88-3
RATES OF SUICIDE BY RACE AND GENDER, 1960 TO 1990 

            Rates of Suicide for Ages 15-19            Rates of Suicide for Ages 20-24
                   Per 100,000 Population                           Per 100,000 Population

          White White   Minority Minority         White   White  Minority Minority
Year Males Females Males  Females  All   Males  Females  Males   Females All

1960     5.9      1.6         3.4         1.5       3.6     11.9        3.1         7.8        1.6        7.1
1965     6.3      1.8         5.2         2.4       4.0     13.9        4.3       13.1        4.0        8.9
1970     9.4      2.9         5.4         2.9       5.9     19.3        5.7       19.4        5.5      12.2
1975   13.0      3.1         7.0         2.1       7.6     26.8        6.9       23.6        6.0      16.5
1980   15.0      3.3         7.5         1.8       8.5     27.8        5.9       20.9        3.6      16.1
1985   17.3      4.1       10.0         2.2     10.0     27.4        5.2       20.2        3.5      15.6
1990   19.2      4.2       12.2         2.3     11.2     27.8        5.5       20.5        3.8      16.0

SUICIDE RATES FOR TEENAGERS, 1960-1990

GRAPH NOT AVAILABLE

References: (1) Office of Educational Research and Improvement, United States Department of Education. Youth Indicators: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth (published every two years). Indicator 45, "Causes of Death." (2) United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. Table 13, "Total Population, By Age and Sex: 1960 to 1988." Table 125, "Suicide Rates, By Sex, Race, and Age Group: 1970 to 1986."

It is interesting to note that the suicide rate for persons older than 24 has remained virtually static since 1960, lending credence to the theory that these persons have become adjusted to rapid social change after witnessing it for about a quarter of a century.

The Specific Role of Abortion in Teen Suicide.

Introduction. 

Abortion takes its rightful place as only one of the virtually unlimited range of freedoms that have been bestowed upon teenagers in American society.

With too great a degree of freedom comes a shedding of responsibility however, no matter how free, a person can never shed the personal consequences for his or her actions. We as a species still have the old traditional values rooted in our psyches, perhaps as an integral part of a group survival instinct. Our inner selves, our instincts, tell us that any species or society that tries to avoid responsibility for its actions, either collectively or individually, will eventually descend into anarchy and destruction. And, if we violate these inner principles, we set up an insoluble and inescapable tension that can drive us to even worse excesses in our desire to forget even to suicide.

Relationships. 

Common sense should tell us that abortion increases rather than decreases the teen suicide rate, and various studies prove this relationship.

For example, a University of Minnesota research group surveyed 3,500 high-school teenagers to determine what factors in their lives contributed to depression, stress, and thoughts of suicide. Dr. Barry Garfinkel, head of the University's child and adolescent psychiatry department, found that girls who had had abortions were four times as likely to attempt suicide as girls who had not aborted.[2]

Another study, performed by Dr. Carl L. Tishler, found that teenaged girls who have had abortions are more likely to commit suicide on or near the anniversary of their abortions than at any other time.[3]

Meta Uchtman, Regional Director of Cincinnati Suiciders Anonymous, testified that, of the 4,000 women seen by her organization, 40 percent had had abortions, far more than the 22 percent of 'eligible' women at large. Of this 40 percent, 78 percent were between the ages of 15 and 24.[4]

Personal Situations. 

It is not difficult to imagine the thoughts of a young girl who has been lied to by Planned Parenthood, her school sex clinic counselors, and others as they tell her that her baby is really not alive, and is just a glob of tissue. They tell her that abortion is harmless, that she will experience very little or no psychological or physiological trauma.

Imagine her shock and sorrow when she finds out in biology class, or from a book or a knowledgeable friend or parent, that she has been lied to and that she, at fourteen or fifteen years of age, has already murdered her own child! Imagine her thoughts as she realizes that, at the beginning of her life, she has already ended another life the life of her very own child! Then imagine how escape through suicide may sound so very easy to some of these teenage girls.

There are other, more indirect, reasons why abortion may contribute to our country's exploding rate of teen suicide.

Teenagers especially those who know their parents are pro-abortion know that they could have been aborted for mere convenience if they had not come along at the right time. For some teens, whose self-image is critical more than any other time of their lives, this knowledge is truly devastating.

Additionally, abortion helps confuse teenagers as to the worth of human life in general, especially now that abortion's loathsome progeny, infanticide and euthanasia, are becoming more popular. These killings of 'defective' born human beings leads some teens to conclude that they are worth less if they believe that there is something wrong with them.

Suicide for Sexual Gratification.

Under the current mass drive to be free of all restraints, it is absolutely inevitable that newer and ever more bizarre sexual practices will advance to the forefront in our culture.

Perhaps the ultimate expression of personal degradation in our sex-mad society carries the impressive label of "autoerotic asphyxiation," which accounts for ten to fifteen percent of all suicides among young males in this country.

The "victim" knots a suspended rope around his neck and masturbates in an effort to climax just as he is on the threshold of passing out due to lack of oxygen. This supposedly produces a very intense simultaneous 'high' and orgasm. Predictably, this dangerous stunt often goes awry, with the victim choking the life out of himself after a few moments of pleasure followed by sheer terror as he realizes that he cannot escape the trap he has set for himself. It is not hard to imagine the shock of parents who find a dead teenage son in this situation. It is also understandable that not many of these sexual suicides are publicized.

This type of act is the ultimate in capitulation to the god of sex that we worship in the United States.


References: Teenage Suicide.

[1] Tipper Gore. "Merchants of Death: Touting Teen Suicide." National Federation for Decency Journal, September 1987, page 11.

[2] Frontline Updates. "Suicide More Likely Among Aborted Teens." National Right to Life News, April 2, 1987, page 4.

[3] Carl L. Tishler, Ph.D. "Adolescent Suicide Attempts Following Elective Abortion: A Special Case of Anniversary Reaction." Pediatrics, November 1981, pages 670 and 671.

[4] Meta Uchtman, Regional Director of Cincinnati Suiciders Anonymous, in September 1981 testimony considering parental notification before a minor's abortion. "Suicide, Abortion and Parents." South Dakota Right to Life Newsletter, November 1981, page 3.


Further Reading: Teenage Suicide.

Greenhaven Press. Teenage Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints
Greenhaven Press Opposing Viewpoints Series, Post Office Box 289009, San Diego, California 92128-9009. 1988, 215 pages. Each section includes several essays by leading authorities on both sides of each issue. The questions asked are: "What Affects Teenagers' Attitudes Towards Sex?;" "What Kind of Sex Education Is Appropriate for Teenagers?;" "Are School-Based Health Clinics Beneficial?;" "How Can the Teenage Pregnancy Problem Be Solved?;" and "Should Teenagers Make Their Own Sexual Decisions?" Authors include Charles Krauthammer, Allan C. Carlson, and Sol Gordon. A catalog is available from the above address and can be obtained by calling 1-(800) 231-5163.

Francine Klagsburn. Too Young to Die Youth and Suicide
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. A detailed analysis of the reasons behind the 'epidemic' of teen suicide that is sweeping our nation. Unfortunately, the author seems to be almost oblivious to the baleful Neoliberal influence and the effects of a mass turning away from God.

Eike-Henner W. Kluge. The Practice of Death
London: Yale University Press. 1975, 250 pages. The author ties together in a general manner the philosophy and tactics of all of the pro-death movements: Abortion, infanticide, suicide, euthanasia, and 'senicide.' Although the book is nearly twenty years old, it is still relevant today.

United States Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Service, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, Rockville, Maryland 20857. Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide. Volume 1: Overview and Recommendations. Volume 2: Risk Factors for Youth Suicide. Volume 3: Prevention and Interventions in Youth Suicide. August 1989. United States Government Printing Office, 910 pages.


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This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.


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