What America fails to realize about mental health


Lauren Pappert

Senior Caroline Zimmerman

Caroline Zimmerman, Staff Writer

I once read that in Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold.

This, in American culture, has come to symbolize that when humans break down, we often come back better than we were before.

But lately, in today’s society, we have reached the point where we aren’t repairing with “gold.” We are cracking, breaking, and falling apart, and we don’t have the power to put ourselves back together.

We are resorting to the worst possible outcome: suicide.

553 people died, in the state of Kansas alone, in 2017 due to suicide, according to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, (AFSP).

Kansas has the 15th highest suicide rate in the nation, and the age at risk is getting younger and younger. The numbers are rising fast, and the warning signs are becoming less and less recognizable.

So what are we doing to cure this epidemic? The short answer is nothing.

For the amount of stress, teenagers go through, schools do not provide enough resources for teens in distress.

A JAMA Network study in June 2019 showed that suicide rates for teenagers reached their highest peak on record.

I believe that this is due to the amount of stress placed on teens today. The pressure to be perfect often weighs on teens in extreme proportions. We are often expected to be smarter than our parents. We are expected to get perfect grades, be involved in every activity, and be social butterflies. When this doesn’t work out, teens feel like they have failed.

I know in my school specifically, we only have two counselors for around 600 students. When we sign up to see a counselor for an immediate problem, we often have to wait for over a week to talk to someone.

This doesn’t include the added stress of social media.

Social media only shows people the positives in their lives. It can create a whole new persona of a person who, in reality, is nothing like who they are online.

I know a lot of my classmates on social media posts at least once a week and are always posting about something exciting they are doing.

This can cause distress in teenagers, and cause them to develop a fear of missing out. Fear of not having enough friends or the fear of not being invited to do things with their peers.

But older generations tend not to understand this. Many completely disregard mental health in general. The National Alliance on Mental Illness lists this as being a condition called “Anosognosia,” meaning “to not know a disease.”

I have had friends whose families don’t believe them when they say they are struggling with their mental health. Grandparents who have told them that mental health is something younger generations have made up to get out of the daily grind of life.

If this is happening to someone I know, there’s a high probability that this is happening to others around the nation as well.

When is America going to come to terms with the fact that life is more important than appearances? That we are all human, and we are broken?

What America fails to comprehend is the struggle that the human mind embraces. The struggle that not only teens are experiencing, but an entire nation.

Suicide doesn’t just affect teenagers; it affects adults. My father has lost three of his friends to suicide. Too often have I watched my father suffer the loss of another person who was important to him.

Suicide is an epidemic. We need to treat it like one. And that’s exactly what it is; an epidemic. Webster’s Dictionary definition of an epidemic is “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.”

47,173 people took their lives in 2017. 47,173 people will never again wake up to the sun rising over the horizon. 47,173 people will never again feel the joy of hugging a loved one. 47,173 people will never again get to experience love, happiness, excitement; all of the things that make life worth living.

We have created a hostile environment in this country that sets us up to fail. We are expected to hold everything in when in reality we have a lot we need to let out.

So please. If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, don’t brush it off. Believe them. Get them help. We can repair ourselves with gold once again, and be better than before. We just need to try.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit afsp.org for more resources.