We are depressed, lost, confused, anxious and ending our lives in record rates. The Millennial and Gen Z generations are especially affected by this destructive epidemic. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and continues to rise. Millennial’s are known as the “therapy generation” as more people are seeing therapists than any generation in history. American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report showed that 91% of Gen Zers said they felt physical and emotional symptoms associated with stress (i.e. depression and anxiety).
Where is this shift coming from? We live in an extraordinarily free and prosperous time in history. So, why as a generation do we find ending our lives more enticing than living them? I’ve read many articles from publications like TIME, Newsweek, and Psychology Today saying the upsurge in perfectionism is to blame. I think it goes much deeper than that. I don’t believe the overwhelming pain of depression, anxiety, and unwillingness to live is due to people failing to meet their surface level expectations. No, we need to go to the core of people and our lives on this earth. We are missing a fundamental understanding of the purpose as to why we’re here. We’re killing conviction. We’re killing God.
You hardly need to be a theologian or even accept the idea of a divine creator to know we have a problem with meaning among our young generation. We are constantly hearing people putting off life in order to “find themselves.” We are constantly seeing more people search for answers through therapy. We are constantly seeing more people search for meaning through acceptance and popularity on social media. If you are one of these people, you are not alone in your thinking. However, you will never find what you’re looking for searching in empty earthly vessels.
Religion is dying. Christianity is decreasing in followers. The very idea of having a dogma is rejected by mainstream “intellectuals.” The younger generation is so desperate for meaning and answers that we’re seeing an increasing number of Millennials identifying as “Buddhist” or “spiritual”, except without the Nirvana, belief in incarnation, or any actual religious aspect of these concepts. So, we’re seeking answers through a type of religion while getting rid of the actual religion part. That’s how much we reject being labeled as religious. That’s how much we reject a purpose greater than ourselves and beyond earthly imagine. My generation is leaving religion and creating a spiritual doctrine that involves finding answers within yourself, within your own mind. The world revolves around meditation, therapy, coping, or self-growth in hopes that the pain and confusion will go away. But it doesn’t go away. The world continues to feel empty. There is still no purpose. That’s why we’re depressed. That’s why we’re killing ourselves.
I’m not telling you to believe in God. I’m not telling you to become a Christian or pick up Judaism. However, I am telling you to explore. Explore beyond yourself, your mind, your thinking, and what you think you know about this world. The number of followers on Instagram, your therapist, your mediation session after yoga, your self-help book, none of these things will fill the chasm you have within yourself. The decline in our mental health and religion in our society is no coincidence. My own mental health journey is a testament to that. For eight years I suffered with severe depression, anxiety, and multiple eating disorders. I felt hopeless, lost, angry, and truly believed I would never get better. Life wasn’t worth living. I woke up every morning with that mindset. I yelled at God, I rejected Him.
After multiple treatment centers, relapses, and soul searching I finally stopped focusing my energy on myself and my pain, and instead on the overarching purpose of my existence. I believe I was divinely made in the image of God and put on this earth for a reason. Not to live for myself, but to live for the God given purpose I have always had but refused to see. Again, I’m not telling you to believe in God. I’m not forcing my religious principles on you. I’m not saying religious people aren’t susceptible to mental health issues and suicide either. I am telling you that you are inherently valued and made with a purpose. I am telling you there is so much more beyond this earth and what is going on within. I encourage you to find it.
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