We think it’s mobile phones. We think it’s social media. We think it’s gun violence or drugs.

It’s all those things and more. And it’s only a small slice of the bigger picture.

When the digital age moved in that which we thought would bring us together pushed us apart. The biggest issue in today’s culture is the lack of face-to-face time and our breakdown in social communities and I am not referring to social media here but our neighborhoods, church communities, relationships, families, and more.

The advances in tech are moving faster than we are and we can’t keep up

Each new generation is getting less connection. That connection is why we evolved while other species failed to thrive. Today’s, culture is more self-focused and that is resulting in more depression.

With less unstructured and freelance play time, our kids have gotten fewer opportunities to develop coping and emotional regulation skills. Our young people feel insignificant and unseen. They want to be heard but fight to be heard.

When I was growing up my whole world was my neighborhood of 12 kids

I had to figure out how to get back in good graces if I had a fight and I had to learn to accept calls from novice referees. All those things helped me build negotiating skills and resilience.

Today’s kids are not getting that experience or the opportunities to develop these attributes.

There is an answer

And that’s being more intentional about how we parent and teach. We can integrate those opportunities at home and at school, so our kids develop these essential life skills. It’s not as hard as you think.

Even small shifts render big results. Like listening more and lecturing less, allowing our young people to feel seen and heard.

My son Charles craved connection and when he felt disconnected, he took his own life.

So, when I teach mental health or suicide prevention, I focus a lot on going upstream before the water gets rough and it’s tough to rescue. Because it’s harder, more costly, and more dangerous to try to pull someone out of the water right before it goes over the falls. And all of us can help ourselves and our young people build these skills. We are qualified and it just takes knowing what to do.

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, professional mental health speaker, trainer, the author of two books, a library of free eBooks, and in-person and online courses including the popular, How to raise mentally healthy kids: Parenting Strategies for Teaching Kids How to Cope.

Mental Health Data and Statistics on Our Young People

2021 YRBS Stats (Youth Risk Behavior Survey which came out in 2023)

  • In 2021, 42% of high school students felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in a row that they stopped doing their usual activities.
  • Twenty-two percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with the highest rates among those with any same-sex sexual contacts (58%), LGBTQ+ (45%), female (30%), or American Indian or Alaska Native (27%).

Data from the National Vital Statistics System which came out in 2023

  • The suicide rate for people aged 20–24 increased 63% from 2001 through 2021 with a greater pace of increase from 2012 through 2021
  • The suicide rate among people aged 10–24 remained stable from 2001 through 2007 and then increased 62% from 2007 through 2021
  • For people aged 10–14, the suicide rate tripled from 2007 through 2018 (from 0.9 to 2.9), and then did not change significantly through 2021, while the homicide rate doubled from 2016 through 2021.

Source: Curtin SC, Garnett MF. Suicide and homicide death rates among youth and young adults aged 10–24: United States, 2001–2021. NCHS Data Brief, no 471. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2023. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.15620/cdc:128423.