Meaninglessness can lead to much higher suicide rates among young people!
Young people in rich countries have never been more gadgeted and entertained than now. The change over the last century is breathtaking. But so is the rise in mental illness.
The reasons for this mental ill health can be summed up in a few words: fear, immediate need satisfaction, persistent stress, poor diet, too little exercise, superficial contacts and meaninglessness. The latter is a very serious factor because it can create a desire to no longer exist. When you feel meaningless, it's easy to think you're a burden to others and suicide becomes a selfless act. Suicide is the leading cause of death among men between the ages of 15 and 44 in Sweden.
In our quest to have a meaningful life, we confuse meaningfulness with satisfaction. When a desire is satisfied, we desire a new, stronger satisfaction in order to be in a state of happiness again, otherwise emptiness takes over. Genuine meaningfulness is not transitory, because it is created independently of material things, external validation or gratification of any kind. Sören Kierkegaard has said "When a man, who in his physical being is always turned outwards in the belief that happiness is outside him, finally turns inwards and discovers that its source is within him, this is one of the deepest insights of existence".
What creates meaningfulness? In part, it's about finding values in life that you find important and becoming better at listening inwardly. It is important to strive for a zest for life, to have faith in the future and in oneself as a human being, as well as to analyze one's values, get an overview of one's life, see context, give meaning to life, create confidence in oneself and perhaps also reflect on the source of all life. Personally, I believe that every human being has the potential and destiny to flourish and to contribute with things that they are good at.
How do I find my meaning? In addition to stillness, openness, and curiosity, I believe that questions can be guiding. Even if you don't get quick conscious answers, you engage the subconscious. Here are some questions you can ask. Reflect on why:
- If I were to guess, what do I think the meaning of my life is?
- What do I consider most important in my life?
- What do I love to do?
- What do I think I would like to contribute to the world?
- What do I want to learn?
- What challenges have I experienced that have made me most proud?
- Which people do I admire the most?
- What qualities do I have that I am really proud of?
One way to start a positive spiral of development that gives more meaning can be to:
- spreading joy around you
- expressing gratitude
- having an open mind
- not judging and criticizing
- be flexible and permissive
- forgive and let go of what has been
- accepting oneself
- praise and show appreciation
- see and experience love for the living
- nurture close relationships
- spend time on what really brings you joy
- set aside time for stillness
- seek knowledge and development
Advice to adults living or working around young people
- Always take time to listen to young people when they want to talk, even if it's in the middle of the night or when you're busy.
- Let them know that they can and should talk about their feelings.
- Don't belittle their feelings by saying things like "a lot of people feel that".
- Don't be afraid to talk openly about difficult emotions and experiences.
- Take their depressive symptoms seriously.
- Promote good relations with the school/parents.
- School staff should show that they care about young people by finding out the reasons for their truancy, and by making time to talk to those who show signs of depression.
- Include information about suicide and mental health in all school subjects
How can a society allow young people to be lured into destructive meaninglessness when we know quite well how to achieve meaningfulness? This is a collective responsibility. If this trend continues, a large proportion of our young people may choose suicide as the last resort.