Although the U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world, our suicide rate is the 39th highest in the world. Last year, 35,000 adults in the U.S. committed suicide. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 100 adults planned to commit suicide in the past year, a total of 2.2 million adults. Of those, young adults ages 18-29 and women were more prone to suicidal thoughts and behavior. The number of Americans contemplating suicide is alarming; for every suicide there are estimates of anywhere from 11 to 25 attempted suicides.
Suicide rates traditionally increase during recessions and decrease during economic booms. Yet even during economic downturns, Americans are better off than most people in third world countries. There is an extensive “safety net” of government programs that provides monetary assistance and food for families that encounter hard times. More than 10 percent of Americans receive food stamps. More than 50% of all babies receive some kind of government assistance. Americans may not be wealthy, but they have enough to get by comfortably.
What explains the high rate of suicides? Materialism. American culture places an increasingly high value on status and acquiring things. However, at the same time there has been a decline in teaching our children the value of hard work. Children are being taught ethnic studies in place of social studies, they are being taught revisionist history, and are generally being dumbed down and taught victimhood. They are coming out of school less prepared for the rigors of life and lack a strong work ethic.
At the same time, our youth have been led to believe they can have it all; dining out frequently, fancy cars, a big house, designer clothes, big-screen televisions, the latest expensive electronic gadgets, and multiple wireless phones. They are spoon-fed television shows of the rich and famous living well beyond the means of most Americans, but the shows portray these stars as if they are regular folks just like you and me. The Kardashians is but one of many reality TV shows featuring exorbitantly wealthy glamorous stars who young girls look up to and emulate. This sets young people up for unreasonably high expectations. When they inevitably run into financial difficulties, often brought on by illness, loss of a job, divorce or child custody legal battle, they are maxed out financially and have no money left to spare. Obligated to hefty mortgages, long- term wireless phone contracts, and other binding contracts, their dismal financial situation is compounded.