Depression is one of the health problems that has been acquiring greater relevance in society over the last few decades.
As indicated in an article in The Guardian, depression is a leading global disability, while unipolar depression (unlike bipolar) is the leading cause of premature death, noting that for every minute, two people in the world commit suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2017, approximately 3.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds experienced at least one major depressive episode in a 12-month span, a number that represented 13.3% of that U.S. population.
In a recent opinion column by conservative presenter and writer Denis Prager, he noted that between 1946 and 2006, the suicide rate quadrupled for men aged 15 to 24 and doubled for women of the same age.
According to Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, quoted by Prager, 32 mass public shootings occurred in the state in the 1980s. In 1990 there were 42 shootings, and in the early 2000s alone there were 28.
However, according to Duwe, in the 1950s, when there were fewer restrictions on guns, only one was recorded, and 50 years earlier, in 1900, there were none.
As reported by Reuters Health, “Suicidal thinking, severe depression, and rates of self-injury among U.S. college students more than doubled over less than a decade, a nationwide study suggests.”
In data collected from two large annual surveys of college students, covering the period 2007 to 2018, the researchers found that there is a marked worsening in mental health indicators, including overall depression, anxiety, a low rate of prosperity, and suicide planning and attempts, Reuters reported.
“Though people have more money, better health care, better health, better housing, and more education, and live longer than at any time in history, they—especially young people—are unhappier than at any time since data collection began,” Prager wrote.
While various factors causing depression include substance abuse or prescription drugs, as well as a significant reduction in human interaction due to cell phone use, low grades, income inequality, Prager said the most important reason is “the almost complete loss of values” over the past century.
According to an article published in the Bartleby electronic archive, “teenagers today lack moral values and self-discipline,” while “Moral values and graciousness, in the past, were prominent in most teenagers.”
“A majority of the youths then learned respect, courtesy, consideration, decency, propriety, honesty, and righteousness from a young age, and had enough self-discipline to hold to these values,” the article said.
In the face of the reasons that have led to the absence of such values, the article proposes that contemporary young generations “lack the self-discipline to resist temptation, and their raging hormones overpower their ethics,” leading to a lack of self-control to resist the impulses that lead, for example, to premarital sex.
Another example cited in the article points out that such lack of self-discipline leads to many young people ending up as victims of peer pressure.
Prager suggests that two important elements that contributed to the foundation of the United States as a free and sovereign country be taken into consideration: the Judeo-Christian and American identities. “Chief among American values was keeping government as small as possible,” he explained in his opinion column.
“This enabled nongovernmental institutions—Kiwanis International, Rotary International and Lions Clubs International; book clubs; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; bowling leagues; music societies; and, of course, churches—to provide Americans with friends and to provide the neediest Americans with help,” he said.
Prager also gave weight to what are known as “middle-class” or “bourgeois” values, including marrying before having a child to build a family, getting a job to support oneself and one’s family, self-discipline, and patriotism.
As he points out, these values have been attacked by the U.S. elite, leading to, for example, one in five young people having no contact with their father.
“The majority of births to millennials are to unmarried women. Yet, according to a 2018 Cigna study, single parents are generally the loneliest Americans,” Prager said.
Prager concluded his column by explaining that marriage and family are the greatest sources of happiness for most people, even though today “the percentage of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. More Americans than ever will not get married, or they will marry so late they will not have children.”
With all this, Prager suggested that the progressive approach that has been taking place in the minds of the most contemporary generations has undermined the ability to face life from a perspective that considers the values that founded this nation as an inherent part of development and progress.