The stats are insane:
- Males complete suicide at a rate four times that of females.
- Suicide rates have traditionally decreased in times of war and increased in times of economic crisis.
- Rates of suicide are highest among the elderly (age 65 and over).
- Elderly adults have rates of suicide of more than 50% higher than that of the nation as a whole.
- Suicide ranks third as a cause of death among young (15-24) Americans, behind accidents and homicide. (LINK)
I get a strong sense that there is a significant connection between the decrease of intergenerational connection along with rites of passage and the groups in our society that tend towards suicide. I wrote a week or so ago (Rohr quote and the educational system) about our culture’s tendency to emphasize productivity. This is what makes humans, especially men, worthwhile… what they can produce in our society. Success is based on money, status, and climbing up the ladder. Not self awareness, unconditional and sacrificial love, risk taking, and wisdom.
When we emphasize productivity in our culture, it only makes sense that youth (who haven’t gotten to the productive stage and often get overlooked by the producers) and elderly (who have been through it and now see that they don’t have anything left to offer… the worse of the two) would feel the need to end it all.
If generations do not come to realize the need for generational connectivity… if the older generations do initiate and walk with the youth into adulthood… if we do not begin as the young to honor the old for their wisdom and as the old, honor the young for their gifts… we will perpetuate a sick cycle of suspicion of older leadership, jealousy and imitation of the young for their youthfulness, and a continual repetition of worthlessness, power hunger, and disconnectedness. This is a terrible problem in our society!!
We need to see the older generations as elders, not elderly… and they need to start acting like it. We need to see youth as gifts… and they need to be learners, always learners. Some of the early Celts had a name for their children. Eurn… this was also the name for wealth. Essentially, their young were referred to as, “child-wealth.” Not “little rascals,” “trouble makers,” or “terrible-twos.”
This is the need… we MUST begin to value each stage of life, not for the productivity of each person, but for the gift that they have to offer the human race in their wisdom, their love, and their being. What this honoring looks like will have to be reserved for another post.