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What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?

I am seventeen years of age and have recently come out of a large stage of my life where I dealt with a lot of depression. I have dealt with and still deal with people in high school (and even middle school in some cases) that deal with depression every single day and never have anyone that they talk to about their problems.

I have known people that have committed suicide from the weight of depression upon their shoulders throughout their lives, and have heard about these cases all over the world. I, myself, have been driven to the point where I thought that the only way out of my depression was by suicide because there was nothing to help me.

I want to know your opinions and ideas on the subject of depression and suicide in young adults today and what we can do to prevent these problems in the future. Thanks for listening!

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      Oct 13 2011: Adriaan,
      It is very clear that we are in human form. Many of us do not believe that thoughts come only from heaven and hell. Nor do many of us believe that "our spiritual freedom is based on the balance between those two". I agree with you that the "human mind is an amazing piece of machinery", and we can usually justify any kind of action or belief.

      How about if we stay on topic and explore the question presented....
      "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?"
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      Oct 14 2011: Adriaan,
      I respect the fact that you have certain religious/spiritual beliefs, and we both know that everyone does not share the same beliefs. It seems clear that you would like everyone to embrace your beliefs, and you say that's what you are "complaining" about. Our thoughts DO NOT all come from "two sides of the spiritual world..."...they are not simply from heaven and hell...our thoughts are very much a part of us as we are in human form.

      The messages you continue to write in all of your comments are fine, if the conversation is about religious/spiritual beliefs. However, this topic is: "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?"

      I suspect that you believe your religious/spiritual beliefs will "cure" everything, so you may be offering this information out of the goodness of your heart. However, there may be young people visiting this site who are depressed and considering suicide, and the ideas you present are confusing.
      • Oct 14 2011: Colleen,
        Your thoughts are well intentioned as well but the reason for teens and anyone considering suicide can be broken down to simple truths and causes. It's about identity and if the root cause is not exposed, those that suffer will never get better.

        Since when is giving advice to a person to read the Bible anything less than good advice or following biblical teachings. If you have studied the Bible, it's filled with all that you need for a very successful life.

        Since when is spirituality not part of every living moment and every conversation. It does not operate outside of science. If you've read the Bible, it's as high a level of a read as any book ever written. You can read it 100 times and still learn something new every time.

        I struggled for many years with depression. I tried everything. Taking a scientific approach only to it, knowing that science alone has little success on curing it is what young people need to know. The tragedy after 2 years of sessions and no result is important to identify. It takes more. It takes love. it takes support from friends and family. it takes reconciliation with your parents who are statistically the primary cause of it more than not. it takes an understanding to stop being passive especially as a young man. it takes counseling of course from someone you can respect and you find out more about before you trust them with your future. That is a big one actually - get to know who is counseling you. How are they with their family. Are their children of high integrity and do they respect this person? Does the counselor love their spouse unconditionally? They need to be rock stars because their book knowledge is inadequate at best. We know far less than we do know about the human brain. Look to their legacy and how they are seen by their peers and others.
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          Oct 14 2011: Mark,

          You say:

          "Your thoughts are well intentioned as well but the reason for teens and anyone considering suicide can be broken down to simple truths and causes. It's about identity and if the root cause is not exposed, those that suffer will never get better."

          This is a somewhat simplistic outlook and ignores many variables that contribute to the condition.

          I see you also have depression and that you have found relief through a particular course of action. That this treatment (apparently) worked for you does not mean it will work for anyone else. I have experienced full recovery from depression using a completely different approach. For example, my therapist's personal life had no bearing on whether or not they could treat me effectively.

          Depression (the condition) is not an emotional state; it is a physical state that affects emotions.
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          Oct 14 2011: Hi Mark,
          Yes, I have studied the bible...12 very intense years of catholic schooling, which is why I do not practice a religion as an adult.

          I agree that those who suffer from depression and may be contemplating suicide often have identity issues, and there could be many underlying causes.

          I am sorry that you struggled with depression, and glad that you found a solution. I agree that understanding, love, support from friends and family and sometimes counceling can all be important contributers to healing.

          You also say..." it takes counseling of course from someone you can respect and you find out more about before you trust them with your future. That is a big one actually - get to know who is counseling you".

          This is why it is important for us as contributers to a public forum to be mindful about what advice we give to people who are vulnerable. Thanks for reinforcing this idea because it is very important, and it is the point I brought to Adriaan's attention.

          The bible, spirituality and/or religion may have worked for you, but spirituality and religion are not the cause of, or the cure for depression, thoughts of suicide, or any other mental challenge.
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        Oct 19 2011: To Colleen Steen:
        I think your dismissal of Adriaans approach is unfounded. The fact that not everyone believes the same religious ideas as him does not mean that his words cannot be helpful or have an impact.
        One of the ways we used to be able to escape from some harsh truths from our belief in god and heaven and hell. Now everything is said to come from the individual.
        "It is only you that creates your thoughts" means that we are also responsible for those thoughts. We have only ourselves to blame, then for our depression. I think that people should be allowed to find relief through their beliefs wether they are accepted by everyone or not. The fact that we have something other than ourselves to hold responsible, and channeled in religion which is not harmful to anyone else, can be good for you, if not taken to extremes. It's that way with artists too, in the past people believed muses, spirits etc. visited them and gave them inspiration. So if their work was not good, it wasn't entirely their fault and they could let it go and continue their creative process. I think what Adriaan says can help some people, (even if his strong beliefs can be unhelpful or uncomfortable to others) and we should not immediately dismiss his contribution because of his beliefs. He does not present a way for us to cure religion but advice directly to those, whom it can touch, that are battling with depression.
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          Oct 19 2011: Thanks for the feedback Maria,
          Sorry you percieve my comments to Adriaan to be a "dismissal". As you and I have both said, there are many different factors that may contribute to depression, and many different practices and methods to deal with depression.

          As you may notice, I've told Adriaan that I respect the fact that he has personal religious beliefs.

          1.) I reminded Adriaan to stay on topic, which TED supports.
          "How about if we stay on topic and explore the question presented....
          "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?" "

          2.) I reminded Adriaan that there may be vulnerable people who may be depressed visiting this site, some of his ideas are confusing, and we need to be aware of that.
          "I suspect that you believe your religious/spiritual beliefs will "cure" everything, so you may be offering this information out of the goodness of your heart. However, there may be young people visiting this site who are depressed and considering suicide, and the ideas you present are confusing".
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi Adrian,

      I appreciate that you started your comment with the qualifier, "Personally I think it is a by-product of humanity loosing sight of reality, our spiritual reality."

      That this is your personal view is, of course, indisputable; whether it is universally true, or "personally true" for others is questionable.

      Personally, I do not share your worldview. However, I do believe that, if your worldview makes you a happier person, then your example will contribute to a decline in depression and suicides in young people.

      When young people see older people who are happy and enjoying life it triggers a natural tendency for optimism. When they see a population of people who are themselves "depressed," it engenders feelings of hopelessness and ennui.

      Of course, there is much more to it than that but I do think one of the best things we can do for "the youth" of today is enjoy our own lives. And if your worldview helps you do that, that's a good thing.
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi Adrian,

      To address one or two specific points you mention:

      Not everyone believes in a heaven or a hell and many of those who do do not see them as physical domains. That many of us believe they exist does not mean they actually do exist. That many of us do not believe they exist does not mean they actually do not exist.

      Thoughts do not originate outside of the brain. Thoughts may be influenced by circumstance, experience, and even by other thoughts that originate in other people's brains; but all thoughts are formed in "a brain."

      Depression is a complicated condition. It is not an emotional state; it is a physical state that effects emotions. One cannot think oneself out of depression anymore than one can think oneself out of having a cold.

      Thinking might provide us with a course of action we can take that will help us recover from a cold or from depression but it is the actions we take (and the natural course of events) that yields results.

      And there are things we can do to minimize our exposure to colds (and to depression.) For example, washing our hands and face regularly will reduce the number of colds we will get. Physical exercise, a healthy diet, and a strong social network will reduce the likelihood we will experience depression.

      But if we get a cold or if we get depression, we need to treat them both.
      • Oct 14 2011: Thomas,
        physical exercise, healthy diet, strong social network are your answers. Wrong answer. It's about love. Don't give up on it. When I suffered from depression I was popular at school, played sports, and ate pretty well. Didn't help me one bit and it won't solve depression from anyone. As you stated, there are lives at stake who may be reading this.

        I can only speak for men but it's a deep father wound at the core most times. Young boys do not have identities and it takes a lot more than what you suggested. not that it's hard. It's refreshing and enlightening and liberating when you do figure out that all that time your dad was not an example of how to love his wife, to give you focused eye contact, to lead a household that felt pride in their family name and traditions, to notice the good his son did instead of just correcting him all the time, and most importantly, to not be a lump on a log all the time and blame it on the fact that work really took it out of him and he has nothing left for his son.

        It's about the right of passage and if you didn't have a good example at home, you can still figure out how to make it right as an adult.

        For boys today - the right of passage is if they finally had sex. That's as far from the truth as it can be. They need to know it's about honor and integrity and to feel OK to be a man. This culture we live in where if it's OK for you, it's OK is silly. It's also a lie Hollywood forces down our throats that all things for kids needs to be gender neutral. That is as far from who we are as humans as can be. Men and women are so different on every level. A man needs to embrace manhood with zeal and courage. It's all about how his father respected or didn't love and respect his mother that is the issue. If the father was a model, the boy can be filled with as much testosterone as an Ox but he will cherish his girlfriend and wife as his father did.

        Too many weak or absentee fathers - that is the root cause
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          Oct 14 2011: Mark,

          I strongly recommend you do a couple of things:

          1) Research your topic a little bit.
          2) Try to find out a little bit about the person you are writing to (before you write.)

          While what you have said has some (limited) validity; that you present it as a "root cause" for something you know very little about is misleading.

          You are confused. Well-meaning but confused.

          You have made your point. I have heard your point. I accept your point as having limited validity. You have no need to attempt to convince me or others of your position.

          It is clear.
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          Oct 15 2011: Dear Mark,
          You write..."physical exercise, healthy diet, strong social network are your answers. Wrong answer. It's about love. Don't give up on it. When I suffered from depression I was popular at school, played sports, and ate pretty well. Didn't help me one bit and it won't solve depression from anyone. As you stated, there are lives at stake who may be reading this".

          Mark, physical exercise, healthy diet and strong social network are not the "wrong" answers. They are well established practices which are recommended by both spiritual teachers AND medical professionals, as ways to help decrease the symtoms of depression. Love and not giving up are also very important pieces to the puzzle. You have stated in your comments that there are many different factors which contribute to depression. It's important to be consistent with advice.
    • Oct 21 2011: Dear Adriaan. I submit the follwoing case for your comment:
      A young man I knew was very active in curch, believed in God and was very spiritual. He prayed regularly. Something was very physically wrong iwth him, he was often sick, he gained and lost weight, and he had bad skin. Eventually he sank into depression, and no longer found joy in things he previously loved. Even church.
      This young man later became an atheist, but more importantly found that he ha celiac disease, and by eliminating wheat from his diet his physical symptoms went away completely and he slowly recovered from the depression as well.

      There are well documented scientific truths here, and if you are right, they are based on our God given abilities to seek the truth. Why would God create us in such a way as to have our logic and reason contradict his will? The only answer would be that logic, reason, and science are in fact works of the Devil. I for one do not believe that.
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          Oct 21 2011: Hi Adriaan,

          Personally, I do not use the links anyone puts in their replies. There are several reasons, not the least of which is, I am having a conversation with an individual, not a data base or a search engine.

          I am not surprised some of your posts have been deleted for being off topic; and I expected some of my comments to you to be deleted for the same reason.

          Let me say this, I do not share your beliefs. And I find your belief to be irrelevant to the present conversation.

          What have you said that is meaningful to a young man who is grappling with a specific issue? (I will offer an answer to that presently.)

          If your advice to him requires him to adopt a worldview that is purely a fanciful fabrication of an overactive imagination (as I assert yours is) then you are adding an unnecessary obstacle to resolving what is already a challenging situation. For example, he may have a religious worldview of his own. He may be an atheist. He may "not care."

          If you believe he must believe what you believe to overcome depression, then, fine, say that. Say, "Chris, if you want to overcome your depression you must believe in a revisioned spirituality as fashioned by an eccentric Swedish scientist who talked to people living on other planets."

          And, if you do say that, you can expect me, and I am sure others, to refute your comments.

          If, on the other hand, you are suggesting - and this is the only meaningful thing you have said in regards to the topic - that what Chris thinks might have an impact on his condition, then, tell me*, how has any of this extraneous spiritual mumbo jumbo added anything to the sentiments stated simply and more clearly by Marcus Aurelius when he said:

          "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature."

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          * It's a rhetorical device. Please do not tell me; your answer is easily anticipated.
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