You can demonstrate, weep and rage against the gun violence at Parkland High School in Florida in the past month, and that’s needed. On a more sobering reality check, our society faces accelerating traumas not being dealt with that led up to that shooting.
Teenage suicide in the United States remains high in the 15 to 24 age group with 5,079 suicides in this age range in 2017, making it the second leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24. Suicide becomes the 11th leading cause of death for all those age 10 and over, with 33,289 suicides for all US citizens annually.
In other words, 14 teens kill themselves daily across the USA, but we don’t see anyone marching on Washington DC to ban suicides.
“The number of drug overdose deaths among 15 to 19-year-olds rose 15 percent for males from 2014 to 2015 and 35 percent for females from 2013 to 2015,” according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That equates to two teens die daily from drug overdoses, yet we allow $50 billion in drugs cross our borders every year from Mexico. Anybody marching on DC about that crisis?
The disturbing numbers may not simply be a case of the well-publicized epidemic of opioid painkiller abuse spreading to another age group.
“These trends fit into the overall picture: Overdose of opioid pills is the bigger problem among middle age and older age groups, while heroin and heroin contaminated by fentanyl are a huge problem among younger people,” said Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies drug use.
As to the Parkland shooting of 14 teens, what caused that kid to take an assault weapon back to his high school to blow those kids away? Did they bully him during his high school years? Did his parents beat him?
As a high school teen, I faced bullies beating me up until I grew to 6’2” and 180 pounds. Once I reached a bigger size, they stopped hitting me because I hit back with my fists. But many kids don’t reach enough size, so the bullying continues. At some point, they plot revenge.
On Facebook, this kid talked about his depression:
I’m depressed. This is a brief description of how it feels to me:
Depression is wanting to talk but not having the energy to start a conversation.
Depression is not wanting to wake up because you don’t have to be ‘you’ in your dreams.
Depression is being hungry but nothing sounds good.
Depression is just as debilitating and painful as having a broken bone.
Depression is real and it sucks…
If you plan on sending me thoughts and prayers, it better be in the form of money. The former is actually useless to the person/people you send it to. You do that to make yourself feel better; to make you believe you actually did something to help.
From that incoherent message, he thought money might become his solution, but we all know that money didn’t save Robin Williams, Prince, Michael Jackson, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Bobby Houston and thousands of mega rich people who died from drugs, alcohol or deaths induced by drugs. All of them suffered from depression.
Even more oxymoronic: we face an opioid death epidemic.
Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 42,249 deaths in 2016, and opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than 1999.
Anyone marching on DC to stop Big Pharmaceuticals from dispensing those deadly drugs? Those 42,000 deaths equate to more than 40,000 times more than the 17 killed at Parkland by guns.
Again, 1.6 million accidents caused by texting on computers at 70 miles per hour! Average of 4,100 deaths annually from texting. But no one will enact a severely harsher law in fines and jail time to stop it.
America: we’ve got a huge problem growing in our county. It’s called ‘denial of reality’. We charge around attempting to change gun laws, which remains noble in itself, but we haven’t scratched the surface of our entire multicultural society swirling the toilet. Why? Because we do nothing to address the core issues facing us.
Losing our American culture where everyone pulls in the same direction.
Losing human face to face contact and communication.
Losing our communities to diversity, multiculturalism and racial conflict. No one stands, reads or enjoys being on the same page.
Losing our sense of commonality.
Losing our understanding of peaceful interchange because of enormous violence in every media seen by our kids: TV violence, movie violence, video violence, pro wrestling violence, growing up in the ghetto violence, endless wars of the USA overseas violence, rapper violence and the list grows.
At some point, we must return to the basics: loving family life, cohesive community life, restrict violence on TV, movies and videos games. Face to face with our kids instead of average American male watching 4.1 hours of TV seven days a week.
Without changing our dynamic, our kids and, in the end, our society faces mega consequences already playing out in drug overdoses, suicides and gun violence.
Frosty Wooldridge is a Population-Immigration-Environmental specialist: speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences. Facebook: Frosty Wooldridge. Facebook Adventure Page: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World. Www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com. www.frostywooldridge.com.