The AP report tries to blame the rise in suicides on the “growing availability of guns”—a lazy and superficial explanation for a much deeper problem: The crisis of meaning in post-Christian culture.
The suicide epidemic is rather a symptom of a secularization that has robbed most people of ultimate meaning in their lives. Many lack an objective higher ideal outside of maximizing their own pleasure and comfort. Superficial distractions and short-lived moments of happiness only work for so long; at some point, if one cannot answer the question of the ultimate meaning of their life, they are likely to despair.
Some claim that today’s generations are just too weak and effeminate to handle the harsh realities of life. Previous generations likely had a less comfortable life than Europeans and Americans in the 21st century; however, our time has its own unique challenges, as many young people are confronted with destructive temptations, like online pornography, which our ancestors did not have to face.
While effeminacy may play a role in the suicide epidemic, the lack of purpose is really at the core of the issue. It is no wonder that Jordan Peterson became so popular by talking about meaning, responsibility, and suffering in life. He spoke to a generation that yearns to live (and die) for something greater than themselves but does not know what that might be.
All the higher ideals that used to be cherished and give people something outside themselves that makes sacrifices and suffering worthwhile—nation, family, and especially religion—are under relentless attack by the neo-Marxist ideologies that dominate public life in the West.
Whenever the establishment offers an alleged higher ideal to people, like saving the planet and the human race from impending doom caused by “man-made climate change,” it just causes the adherents of this ideal to be even more terrified and depressed.
As things worsen economically and culturally, it will become even more difficult for people to distract themselves from the important question of life: Is there an objective meaning to life? Does God exist? Do heaven and hell exist? Can there be meaning in my suffering? Etc.
As times get tougher, there is an opportunity to convert hearts and minds to the truth, the Logos incarnate, Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must be ready to love broken people searching for meaning and be prepared to preach the truth with clarity and charity.