When Hope and Love Return
PARENTS, teachers, and others who deal with adolescents realize that neither they nor youths nor any other person can change the world. There are forces at work that are like tidal waves, which no one can halt. Yet, there is much that we can all do to contribute to youths’ being happier, healthier, and well adjusted.
Since prevention is better than cure, parents should think carefully about how their life-style and priorities may shape the attitudes and behavior of their children. Providing a loving and caring environment in the home gives the security that can best prevent self-destructive behavior. One of the most desperate needs of youths is having someone who will listen to them. If parents won’t listen, perhaps less-desirable people will.
What does that mean for parents today? Make time for your children when they need it—when they are young. For many families this is not easy. They struggle to make ends meet, with both parents having no choice but to work. Those who have been willing and able to make sacrifices in order to have more time with their children have often reaped the reward of seeing their sons and daughters make a better success of life. However, as noted earlier, sometimes even with the best of efforts on the part of parents, serious problems with their children can develop.
Friends and Other Adults Can Help
Wars, rape, and abuse of youths call for extraordinary efforts in damage control on the part of adults who truly care for them. Youths traumatized by such negative experiences may not react well even to efforts to help them. It may mean a great investment of your time and effort. Certainly it is not wise or loving to belittle them or reject them. Can we dig a little deeper into our own emotional resourcefulness and show the needed kindness and love to reach out to those at risk?
Not only parents but friends and even siblings need to be especially vigilant to note tendencies in young ones that may indicate a fragile and possibly unbalanced emotional state. (See the box “Qualified Help Needed,” page 8.) If signs are there, be quick to lend a hearing ear. If possible, try to draw troubled youths out with kind questions to assure them of your genuine friendship. Trusted friends and relatives may be able to support parents in handling difficult situations; but, of course, they should be careful not to take over the role of parents. Very often youths’ suicidal tendencies are a desperate plea for attention—parental attention.
One of the best gifts anyone can give to youths is a solid hope for a happy future, an incentive for living. Many youths have come to recognize the truthfulness of Bible promises of a better world system soon to come.
Rescued From Would-Be Suicide
From Japan, a young woman who often contemplated suicide has this to say: “How many times I have longed to take that road. When I was a toddler, I was sexually abused by someone I trusted. . . . In the past, I have written so many notes saying ‘I want to die’ that I have lost count. I have since become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I now serve as a full-time evangelizer, but this urge still comes over me from time to time. . . . But Jehovah has allowed me to stay alive, and he seems to be telling me gently, ‘Keep on living.’”
A 15-year-old girl from Russia explained: “When I was eight years old, I started feeling that nobody needed me. My parents did not have time to speak with me, and I tried to solve my problems by myself. I withdrew into myself. I quarreled constantly with my relatives. Then the thought of suicide came into my mind. How happy I was to meet Jehovah’s Witnesses!”
And from Australia come these encouraging comments from Cathy, now in her early 30’s, which show that despair can really turn to hope: “I constantly dreamed about different methods of ending my life and finally attempted suicide. I wanted to escape this world, which is full of hurt, anger, and emptiness. Depression made it difficult for me to get out of the ‘spiderweb’ I felt I was trapped in. Therefore, suicide seemed to be the answer at the time.
“When I first heard about the possibility of the earth’s becoming a paradise, with a peaceful, happy life for all, I really yearned for it. But it seemed just an impossible dream. However, I gradually began to understand Jehovah’s view of life and how precious each one of us is in his eyes. I began to feel confident that there is hope for the future. At last, I found a way out of that ‘spiderweb.’ To get out of it, however, proved to be difficult. At times depression would overcome me, and I would feel terribly confused. Yet, making Jehovah God my focal point allowed me to draw very close to him and to feel secure. I thank Jehovah for all that he has done for me.”
No More Youthful Deaths
By studying the Bible, a young person can come to realize that there is something better to look forward to—what the Christian apostle Paul calls “the real life.” He counseled the young man Timothy: “Give orders to those who are rich . . . to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, . . . safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:17-19.
Paul’s counsel, in effect, means that we should get involved with other people, helping them to have a solid hope for the future. “The real life” is what Jehovah has promised in his new world of “new heavens and a new earth.”—2 Peter 3:13.
Many youths who were once at risk have come to understand that drug abuse and immoral life-styles are nothing but a long and winding road to death, to which suicide is but a shortcut. They have come to realize that this world, with its wars, hatred, abusive behavior, and loveless ways, will soon pass away. They have learned that this world system is beyond redemption. They have taken to heart that God’s Kingdom is the only real hope, for it will usher in a new world where not only youths but all obedient mankind will never have to die—no, nor even want to die anymore.—Revelation 21:1-4.
[Box on page 8]
Qualified Help Needed
The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine says that “more than 90 percent of suicides occur as the result of psychiatric illness.” It lists such illnesses as severe depression (about 15 percent), schizophrenia (about 10 percent), alcohol dependence (about 7 percent), antisocial personality disorder (about 5 percent), and some form of neurosis (less than 5 percent). It counsels: “All suicide attempts should be treated seriously. Twenty to 30 percent of people who attempt suicide repeat their attempt within a year.” Dr. Jan Fawcett writes: “More than 50 percent of suicides [in the United States] occur in individuals who have had no contact with a mental health professional.” And another source says: “The most important aspect of treatment is for the person to see a psychiatrist as soon as possible to help resolve the underlying depression.”