Working with youth for almost two decades now, I’ve seen
and heard a lot. Still, there’s one phrase that breaks my
heart every time I hear it.
“Steve, I just think it would be better if I weren’t alive.”
Even hearing that sentence once is too many times…
and I’ve heard it much more than once. In fact, I seem to
hear it increasingly as each year goes by. As life stressors
increase at a dramatic rate, issues such as self-harm and
depression have also become more common among
Though, to be honest, I’m not surprised that the ever-heightening level of stress has become the new normal in
our culture. Amid the pressure, today’s youth have lost the
ability to stop and catch a breath. Let’s look at some facts:
;;Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter
and Vine, younger generations are more connected to
each other than any other period in our history. I’m not
saying that this rede;nition of community is necessarily a
bad thing (God created us for community) but it does create a social paradox whereby people are communicating
more frequently but not necessarily in a deeper way. By
hiding behind an airbrushed, onscreen version of themselves, youth are becoming increasingly disconnected on
an honest, personal level. As a result, despite having huge
groups of “friends” and “followers,” youth begin to experience a more profound loneliness.
;;Global awareness through the 24-hour news cycle and
internet has created a deeply rooted passion for social
justice and advocacy for human rights in today’s youth.
Though this too is a good development, it also adds pressure to aid people around the world who lack the basic necessities of survival. Awareness of this large scale su;ering
can quickly lead to feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness in those who wish to help.
;;As the employment market becomes more competitive,
Am I stressing you out yet?
young people are struggling to ;nd ways to make their
dream job a reality. One article from CBC news suggests
that many of the underemployed right now are “young
adults who had practical goals of being lawyers, teachers
and medical care workers and who went through exten-
sive training and education to do so…” These pressures
have forced major life decisions earlier than it did in previ-
ous generations, creating a sort of personal and profes-
These issues (and more) have created a sort of black hole
of anxiety among young people, all of whom are in danger
of being pulled down into the abyss. Increasingly, youth I
come into contact with seem to feel like they can’t keep up