One wonders if the suicide rate going up in America is a reflection of the impact of increased secularism in our culture.
Medical experts will tell us the ills of social injustice, income inequality, technology obsession, rampant drug and alcohol use are all causing the uptick in depression (and suicide), but the one subject no one seems to broach is how religion – or the lack thereof – might also be playing a role in the recent increase of suicide or depression.
American culture does not reflect a strong religious faith – at least in popular culture, which seems to be the mirror by how we gauge the way we perceive ourselves.
If America is becoming less religious, as the studies seem to indicate, should we expect to see depression continue to rise?
Ate suicide rates in secular countries higher?
Yes they are
Let is consider the rise of secularism and what it does to a people, race or culture, when godly principles are no longer valued in society, and this gaping hole allows narcissism to seep in to fill the void. Without religion depression rates are higher.
Multiple studies have confirmed that religious people live longer lives, are happier, and deal with crisis far more sufficiently, even when life-threatening ilnesses occur.
One thing you see will be hotlines, medications and lots of analysis of mental illness, but nowhere will you hear a discussion about the human spirit and how religion – a saving faith in something bigger than ourselves – might provide a solution to suicide. Faith in God is part of the human spirit, we are wired with it in our DNA.
Without faith, a belief in something greater and more enduring then ourselves, we are isolated, alone, deprived of communion with that inner spirit of perfection-attainment, and we try to treat depression, not with a spiritual approach, but with more drugs, more therapy and more self-analysis, with all emphasis on some kind of pseudo-belief that all mental anguish can be treated with an endless elixir of medication or self analysis. Many would argue that it is this obsession with self that is part of the problem.
I recently heard it said that we get angry for a reason, and it means we want to change something that bothers us. In the same way, when we are depressed, there is probably a good reason for our depression. But instead of trying to find the reason, we simply try to counter-effect the depression with artificial means; we cure the symptom, but not the underlying cause. And we can see time after time that this approach is only halfhearted, and usually just leads to a further dependence on whatever “cure” they give us in the form of a pill.
The Urantia Book says true reality can best be viewed when we incorporate the mental, physical and spiritual components. In this manner, and without this holistic viewpoint, most people only see a 2-dimensional view of life, the mental and the physical, but without spiritual insight as to eternal purposes.
In other words, if we don’t believe in a continuance of existence of ourselves, life does become temporal, finite and futile, and taken to its philosophic end, life does have no meaning, and this is the secular view that permeates our current culture.
But when we add the third component, the fact that we are spiritually endowed and there is a possibility of continuance ox existence (an afterlife), then who among us would dare risk suicide when we know (or at least believe) that we will have “thrown in the towel,” on this first and most important life lesson: to live as a spiritually endowed mortal of the realm, a mortal of the flesh.
It is tragic that suicide rates in American have gone up 30% in less than 5 years, some of it I believe is attributable to our little understanding of the mind and our archaic way of treating the mind as just a bundle of synaptic fibers and neuron tissue, easily manipulated by psychotropic drugs and sedatives. Mind is the gateway to spiritual insight, and faith is a great antidote to ward off depression. Faith in a belief in something bigger than ourselves is a key component to seeing oneself as part of a greater plan. And when a culture begins to recognize eternal realities like the power of faith, or even the power of prayer, yes, suicide rates will drop. Without faith, spiritual insight, service to others, emphasis on loving thy neighbor, we are all mere orphans of a mindless, pointless and disconnected existence. That is depressing.
But you won’t hear much talk of spiritual solutions in society, and while all of the talking heads are discussing ways to treat one who is compelled to take his or her own life, not one minster, pastor or rabbi will be called in to offer his insight as to how secularism (life without spiritual purpose) is part of the problem contributing to growing depression in our generation, and how religion can offer spiritual solutions to the moral dilemma of suicide.
James R. Watkins is an author and Editor of Urantia Radio, an internet-based radio broadcast that examines cultural trends, social issues and Urantia Book cosmology.