“Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection” New York Times- Read the article (pdf). Discuss the article. What can you learn from it for your practice?
This is such a difficult and complicated subject. While I was reading I continually found myself thinking how contradictory our culture is on so many issues, and this is one of them. I believe this is deeply rooted in our culture, and something that is not simply fixed. To be honest I think this problem needs to be addressed mainly in the home. I think that a big problem in the U.S., is the degradation of the home, a place that should be stable safe, has boundaries, and teaches children and parents them with care and affection, is not any of those things in a lot of cases. I think that in this article the student examples seemed to have an okay home life, but I would argue that if a student has a good relationship with their parents, the level of suicide really decreases.
I think that in some of these students lives, that deal with being perfectionists, it is important to be shown areas of needed growth. I think if at all possible, there needs to be an effort at school and at home to help the student realize that they are valued despite their grades or performance in school. They are valued by simply being a human being. In my opinion, this is where most people lack a punch, because a lot of people just think we get our worth from our achievements, or self-consciousness, or whatever we want I guess… but I believe that we get our worth and value from God, the fact that we are made in the image of God, and that we are all here for a purpose. Of course, I believe all those things give us “worth’ or make us feel worth something anyway, but when all those things are gone, or appear to be gone, especially for someone with thoughts of suicide, I think that our very core value is revealed. A value that all humans are special from the rest of creation, that they are made in the image of God. I believe that we are more than mere animals, not simply driven by desires and chemical balances, with no moral compass. I think we are more than mere animals, with no other purpose than to survive and pass on our genes to the next generation, and to take this time we have and make it as fun and as full as we can. Trying to explain why, from a biological evolutionary perspective, that someone matters when you strip everything away from them, or they strip themselves of everything else, is very difficult, and in my opinion… impossible. People might say that, “well the girl in the article was a Christian, right? And she still didn’t feel valued’, and I would say that she didn’t understand what it really meant to be a Christian, because any Christian would know that taking your own life, a life that the Son of God gave His life for, would be a grievous sin. Right? One of the basic understandings of Christian theology is realizing and appreciating the great price that was paid for you, the great value that you have to God. The idea that we can have everything stripped away from us, and yet, noting surpasses knowing Christ and being in relationship with Him, a Christian is content with Christ… So, I think that someone’s core belief about themselves is where this fight really is, and I think that we don’t necessarily have the ability to talk about this in a high school setting, but maybe we should? Anyway, I think for right now, I can just tell students who struggle with this kind of difficulty, that they are more than just their grades in school. I would also say that they should be exposed to failure under the care and watch of their parents and teacher, so that they can learn how to properly cope with failure in life, since, in fact, it is something that they will experience, at some point.