The following is an installment in a weekly series of commentary articles by Cameron Arcand, host of the Young Not Stupid interview series and a contributor to The Western Journal.
The University of North Carolina canceled classes on Tuesday to address the “mental health crisis” on its campus, as two students committed suicide in the past month.
“Today, on World Mental Health Day, we are taking a moment to acknowledge and reflect on the seriousness of mental health illness and the challenges we face as we wrestle with the stress and pressures of our world today,” chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement.
“We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across our nation, and we are aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide.
“This crisis has directly impacted members of our community — especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month. As chancellor, a professor and a parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed.”
As UNC mourns these students’ tragic deaths, the suicide rate among young people in the U.S. continues to increase.
Among those ages 10 to 24, it rose nearly 60 percent between 2007 and 2018, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
Another CDC study found that children ages 12 to 17 attempted suicide more often during the pandemic. It is easy to imagine how social isolation and other consequences of lockdowns might have played a part.
This should prompt reflection on what lockdown has done and what we need to do in response.
First off, it was borderline criminal to keep children and young adults out of classrooms and attached to computer screens for such a long period of time.
Many districts kept schools closed much longer than necessary in order to meet the unrealistic demands of teachers unions.
Conservatives were warning from the beginning that the long-term consequences of closing school doors would be disastrous, but were dismissed as selfish grandma killers.
High school and college students in particular are also facing a burnout crisis.
Pulling all-nighters and overworking ourselves into oblivion is currency in our secular world, as these are the standards for what is considered a good, driven person.
But conservative Christians understand that while it is important to apply yourself, you cannot make an idol out of work or good grades.
The education system at large has reinforced the idea that people are measured by their academic performance and career success rather than by their character and goodwill toward others.
Young people need to learn the value of simplicity and balance in their lives, despite what their culture tells them.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or just needs to speak to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
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