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CDC report: high school students hungering for hope

Today’s youth, especially teen girls, are experiencing unprecedented hopelessness. So says a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report examined the connection between a person’s mental health and their sexual behavior, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, as well as racial and sexual identity. It surveyed 17,000 US high school students in 2021.

Researchers found that two groups, in particular, are struggling. 57 percent of teen girls reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless. Even more alarming, 30 percent said they seriously considered suicide, up by 60 percent from a decade ago.

LGBQ youth are also struggling, and at more than double the rate of the rest of the population. The report broke down high school students who experienced poor mental health during the past 30 days (also in 2021) and found that the number was at 22% for heterosexual students and 52% for LGBQ students. And almost half of LGBQ students had also considered suicide. Mainstream reporting on this news blamed the poor mental health of LGBQ students on stigma and violence. But if that is the case, why do the levels continue to increase when identifying as LGBQ has never been so affirmed in the public, to the point of being trendy among many youth?

It doesn’t take an expert to see the connection between poor mental health among youth and a massive increase in screen time and social media over the past decade, as well as the negative effects of government policies in response to Covid, including mandatory masking in schools.

It does take the eyes of faith to see the connection between hopelessness and our society’s ignorance of the Gospel and decisions to ignore God’s good will for our lives. The sad reality is that many youth today have never been given real and abiding hope. These youth are smart enough to realize that if this world is all there is, and they alone decide what has value and meaning, then life is rather empty.

Now, more than ever, the Church has an opportunity to bring hope to a generation that is craving for a reason to live. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

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