The newest generation of youngsters seems to be getting more depressed each year…but why?
A tragic mystery is sweeping across the nation, and it seems that each day it’s getting worse. Headlines in the Drudge Report claim that suicide rates are steadily climbing. Research papers are documenting a consistent rise in depression. Even worse, it is hitting my generation of kids the hardest. There are plenty indications that youngsters are getting more and more mentally ill as the days go on, but why is that?
Although I believe that there are multiple factors contributing to this psychological nadir, I think that the embracing of self-destructive philosophies is certainly one of them. In a time in which traditional faith is being drained away from society, it is quite easy for an emotionally unstable teen to feel hopeless and lost. For example, one of my closest friends is on the verge of adopting the philosophy of nihilism. Every once in a while, our conversations take on a more serious tone and she’ll begin discussing her feelings of emptiness to me. She has stated multiple times that her life feels like a meaningless void with no direction. When I ask her why, she almost always tells me, “If the universe is an uncaring place, and we are just useless specks along for the ride, then what is the point?”
My friend grew up in a secular household. Despite her obvious intellect and incredible talent, she feels as if she has no control over her life at all. Even worse, I suspect that my teachers have something to do with this destructive philosophy of hers. Some of them are quite adamant about nihilism and are more than happy to plant ideas of a meaningless life within the heads of students. No, I am not making any of this up. Perhaps I have only observed this phenomenon within my high school, but I doubt that it is an isolated case of strange teachers projecting their odd feelings upon their classroom.
However, teachers are certainly not the only ones to blame for the propagation of nihilism amongst youth. If people in my generation grow up without a clear faith, they will find something to cling on to. When one starves their soul of faith, it will find table scraps to dine on— whether these scraps be politics, pop culture, or something else entirely. A faithless generation is incredibly vulnerable to “pseudo-religions” and nihilism is just one of these destructive philosophies.
Lastly, social media is somewhat to blame for this mysterious phenomenon. While I dislike to demonize technology, I cannot deny that it has had negative effects on young people. Philosophies such as nihilism, when adopted by a large population, can easily spread across the internet like wildfire. Part of the reason why these destructive philosophies are so popular amongst the younger generation is because it is simply “cool.” It is considered “the norm” amongst many—and if everyone else is depressed and mentally ill, it should be normal for me to be this way, right?
Mental health is a serious crisis plaguing my generation, and we rarely ever ask the question why. The spread of nihilism and lack of faith are certainly two large factors that are contributing to a rising depression rate, but I believe that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are definitely many more reasons why we are becoming “generation sad.” But, for now, let us focus on faith.
Alexandra Giller is a senior in high school.