To book Jeff for your school, event or conference, 1-800-948-9289You can learn more about Jeff Yalden by visiting his website – www.JeffYalden.com. You can also learn more about Jeff’s Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities and Parents, Jeff Yalden University, and follow Jeff on YouTube and Social Media by clicking on the links below: Online Suicide Prevention Course for School Communities Facebook Page School Resources Join Mailing List: Text YALDEN to 66866
Teen Mental Health Speaker: Jeff YaldenJeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top mental health experts in the world primarily focused on education and school communities working with teens, school administration, counselors, teachers, staff, parents and community leaders. He’s a four-time best-selling author including his latest book, TEEN SUICIDE: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic. His Podcast: Mental Health and Motivation continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on today’s mental health conversations for teens and adults. You can learn more about Jeff Yalden by visiting his website – www.JeffYalden.com. You can also learn more about Jeff’s Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities and Parents, Jeff Yalden University, and follow Jeff on YouTube and Social Media by clicking on the links below: For more information, please visit www.JeffYalden.com or click on any link below: Online Suicide Prevention Course for School Communities Book: Teen Suicide: They WHY Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic Facebook Page School Resources Join Mailing List: Text YALDEN to 66866
Before I go any further, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to his wife and sons – to his family, followers and fans. It is with a heavy heart that I write this, but it’s also my responsibility – as it was also Jarrid’s responsibility.
I hope you understand my intentions for sharing my feelings…
Jarrid was a passionate advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. He had the megachurch behind him where he was a pastor. I think of myself as a Christian, and I know that there are many pastors out there living with their share of darkness. I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of them, and they have shared their struggles with me. I have become much more aware of these struggles and in some cases, concerned.
As a suicide prevention and mental health advocate myself – primarily working in school communities with teens, teachers and staff, parents and community leaders – I’ve met and conversed at length with many leaders of churches, and they’ve all told me I’m right and to continue sharing the message when I talk about church and mental health.
Pastors are not perfect
Let me just tell you that 53% of pastors have an addiction to pornography and the occupation of being a pastor is one of the highest for suicidal ideation. I don’t need to go further.
This isn’t about bashing any pastor or any church. It’s about full transparency and not hiding behind a faith to heal your heart or emotions – or hiding behind a congregation for validation. We clearly need more truth, and I think our churches have an incredible responsibility in the mental health crisis we currently live in.
I’m angry and I have a right to be. Here is exactly why I feel as though I do. I’ve been speaking and advocating for mental health and suicide prevention for 28 years.
Jeff Yalden: A Man Who Proudly Lives with Mental Illness
I live with mental illness. I’m diagnosed with major depression, bipolar II disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. I travel nearly 180 days a year giving hope, educating, and inspiring many – as did Jarrid. I’m very protective of who is speaking and giving hope and educating those who need help and hope. This isn’t something we should take lightly, and I see too many people thinking that since they have a story, they can save lives. People struggling with mental illness require the help of professionals – not people that can trigger emotions and leave pieces to be picked up later.
Jarrid Wilson’s final act of suicide, in my opinion, sent more of a message than any of his work as an advocate. Any hope he’d given to anyone struggling and who trusted in him was negated by his forever decision in the end.
Because of things like this, I feel that my 28 years of working – speaking throughout the country on mental health and suicide prevention – has become more of a challenge, and this was a big slap in the face…
It’s not OK that Wilson, who was in a position of leadership and trust – serving people and doing kingdom work, ultimately decided to take his own life.
I WISH HE KEPT FIGHTING AND ASKING FOR HELP.
I believe there is always help available. Take the time to just breathe…
Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps there is a depth of despair I can’t fathom. I’m learning and trying to understand.
I will not give up, but I am angry and really disappointed in Jarrid. As an advocate, you know the work you have to do because you know first-hand the importance of self-care.
Did Jarrid not live the truth he so proudly displayed in his speaking or the books he’d written? Did he not open up about his troubles to his wife or senior pastor? Did he forsake therapy because he thought turning to God would heal his mental illness? Was he even on medication?
I have questions, and I feel like I have the right to know because I fight the battle myself.
Jarrid’s high-pressure role at Harvest Christian Fellowship seemed to be too much, and one of his friends said that he had expressed an interest in stepping down. Did this sign go unnoticed by church leadership? Was there even a conversation as to why he wanted to step down? Was there support for him?
Is the church too big to include input from mental health professionals?
A person I’d like to have lunch with is Mr. Dale Partridge, a pastor and a friend of Wilson’s. What exactly does he know and what did they try and do for Jarrid? It could be possible that Jarrid himself wasn’t as truthful as he could have been about the depth of his pain.
Before I get out of my car and go into a facility to make a presentation, I always ask God to use me as a vehicle to provide hope, to educate and to plant seeds. I feel strongly that God is with me – but I also feel strongly that God has blessed us with mental health professionals, who are crucial in helping people create a toolbox and resources to help them cope. This is the God I know.
Is it possible that we have churches that are reckless enough to put people with mental illness in positions of leadership? Do certain churches place people into leadership roles even when these people doubt their faith?
Don’t get me wrong. I know we have wonderful houses of worship with fantastic people who lead their congregations – but like anything else, we also have imperfection and unbiblical practices from people who are in positions of great responsibility.
Why are our churches putting these people in such positions? I’ve read that many church leaders have been open about their mental health struggles and their doubts of the Bible and doctrine.
As a man who lives with mental illness, I am the healthiest I’ve ever been, having more fun than ever and feel more present in my work. A huge part of this boils down to the fact that I am doing the work – counseling, therapy, medication and self-care. I wake up early enough to make sure I take care of myself first.
Self-care is not selfish.
I understand that we are busy. I can also understand the “second-hand trauma” associated with serving others who also struggle – listening to them and acutely aware of their pain. It can be very hard. After years in the trenches of mental illness, I have learned that you can empathize and be compassionate, but you can’t carry the darkness of others.
Anyone in the vocation of serving others – especially pastors – need privacy, not publicity. We need diligent prayer, not overwhelming pressure. We need to truly become servants and should refuse to be placed on pedestals. When a church officer falls, it becomes like a domino effect and causes others to fall. This causes ripples of confusion, fear and doubt among the congregation.
God has given clear instructions that offer protection to His church. Every time we decide to break His commands, we only break ourselves. A pastor is not simply someone who is willing. A pastor is not simply someone who is gifted. A pastor is not simply someone who is educated. He is a man who meets all God’s qualifications. This is safety for God’s church.
I don’t feel my words are coming from ignorance., nor, is my belief uneducated. I feel we need to wake up and see the responsibility we have to one another.
In the world we live in, almost half of all adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime. With being “overwhelmed” as a new clinical diagnosis of mental illness, I believe this to be even higher than half.
We do live in a broken world, but that isn’t an excuse. I’m not asking for perfection or perfect leaders, but I’m asking for accountability and leadership where we take care of one another. I’m very open to a pastor who isn’t perfect, but I want a pastor who is doing the work as in, “Do as I do and as I say. Let me lead you by influence. We do this together.”
For anyone living with mental illness I need you to know it’s OK to not be OK. But if you don’t do something about it, then it’s not OK. A true leader should know they lead best by their influence and not by spoken words.
It is not shameful to live with mental illness. It is contagious to seek help and want to get better. You can live a very healthy life when learning about mental illness and not ignoring it.
I do not want to come across as judgmental or shaming, I’m just angry for the work we all do and sad for Jarrid’s family and all those that listened to him.
Please forgive me if I offended anyone with how I feel. Mental health is an epidemic and I will continue to work hard – on myself and in service to others. I will always pray for people like Jarrid that hurt so much and ultimately felt the struggle was too much. For Jarrid’s family, his fans, and the love of my work I will always advocate strongly for self-care and complete transparency.
Let’s all learn and grow together.
Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as the number one Teen Mental Health Speaker in all of North America. Jeff is a Suicide Crisis Intervention Expert and Suicide Prevention Trainer working with hundreds of school communities every year.
He’s an Amazon Best Selling Author of four books, including Teen Suicide: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic and BOOM: One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day! His podcast, Mental Health & Motivation: The Unlikely Life Coach continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on families and teens.
Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has traveled to 50 states and 48 countries delivering his message, “About Life.”
From 2005-2011, Jeff was a celebrity teen and family life coach on MTV’s hit realty show MADE.
As a celebrity teen & family life coach, Jeff gets the heart of the matter helping teens, young adults, families, and communities in their struggles together.
He’s a Gulf War Veteran and a two- time Marine-of-the-year recipient 1991-1992. He was Mr. New Hampshire Male America, 1990.
Every year over 1 million people are left inspired by Jeff Yalden’s inexhaustible energy that permeates after he speaks.
Jeff has an online suicide prevention course for school communities, parents, teachers, staff, and teens. Check it out HERE.
Jeff Yalden Inspired by Conversation with TeensRecently, I visited Sequim High School in Washington State. Sequim is a beautiful place along the Dungeness River near the Olympic Mountains – and whenever I am in a spot like this, I feel grateful for the opportunity to take it all in. The Sequim school community was amazing. One of the things I truly love about my full-day school programs is that I get to meet and really get to know the students. They are so open when we talk, and that’s inspiring. Because I have more time, I learn more about them – what they think, how they feel – and I am able to get an understanding of their emotions by engaging with them. By listening. The students are enthusiastic, and I could tell that they had so many questions they didn’t seem to know how to ask – but once you gain their trust (and their respect), they are eager to talk. What happens next is absolutely amazing… During one conversation in this VIDEO, a young lady asked me a great question: “What makes you valuable?” I thought about it and told her that what makes me valuable is that I’ve been able to take my life experiences and choose to be a victor through my circumstances instead of a victim. It hasn’t been easy – but in getting to know myself, it’s an honor to share what I have learned in order to plant seeds of wisdom, hope and knowledge in our youth. Her next question was incredibly thought-provoking, deep and intense: “If you lost all of what makes you valuable, would you still be valuable?” Holy Cow! What really makes us valuable? It’s different for everyone, but what hit me with this question is that I don’t need my life’s experiences or even my career as a youth and mental health speaker to feel valuable. I get it, but I don’t think I always understood that. It’s my passion to inspire our school communities, talking about mental health and life and helping to make sense of it all for young people and families – but I don’t need the applause to feel valuable or worthy. What makes me valuable is how I feel about who I am – my heart – being a kind, respectful man of influence and dignity. I was amazed by this exchange and could go on and on about it and what it meant to me as well as to the young people involved. It was remarkable getting to know these teens and speaking heart-to-heart with them. I was inspired. I hope you enjoy this video and share it. The next time you engage in conversation with teens, remember this: Teens don’t care about titles, research or statistics. They care about the answers to two questions…
- Do you care about me?
- Can I trust you?
Who is Jeff Yalden?Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top teen mental health and suicide prevention experts in the world. He works with teens and adults, school communities and mental health professionals. He’s a four-time bestselling author, radio show host, podcast host, online course creator, non-profit foundation founder, and advocate for mental health. Teen Suicide Prevention Online Course for Schools and Communities: CLICK HERE For more information about Jeff Yalden, CLICK HERE. BUY Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The “WHY” behind America’s Suicide Epidemic. Check out Jeff’s Facebook page HERE.
The Catholic Church and Suicide Prevention?Holy Spirit Parish at Geist Catholic Church invited teen mental health and suicide prevention expert, Jeff Yalden to Fishers, Indiana to speak truth to parents and the congregation about today’s youth and the suicide epidemic plaguing our country. For more than two hours, Jeff mesmerized the nearly 500 people that came from all over the outskirts of Indianapolis to hear his straight talk about today’s teens growing up in the digital age – and the potential adverse effect these devices are having on them. Jeff asked one question before speaking: “What is the Catholic religion’s stance on suicide among its congregation?” Jeff wanted to make sure that he was going to be safe talking about teen suicide in the church, and it turned out that he was. His point of contact and the pastor, Father Dan, were incredible human beings – and they sat with him for an hour before people started arriving. They had a great discussion about God, the church, the people, faith and so much more. “I was so honored and excited after spending this time with Pastor Dan and his leadership team,” Jeff said. The Catholic Church has changed over the years when it comes to suicide. According to theology of the Catholic Church, suicide is considered a grave matter, an element required for mortal sin. They believed that one’s life is the property of God and that one’s body is a gift to the world. To destroy life is to wrongly assert dominion over what God wanted for his child – and this act of taking one’s life was held as despair over salvation.
Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. – Catechism of the Catholic Church Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”As of most recently, the official Catechism of the Catholic Church indicates that the person who committed suicide may not always be fully right in their mind, and thus not 100 percent morally culpable: “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” Theological author Jonathan MS Pierce puts it this way: “The Catholic Church prays for those who have committed suicide, knowing that Christ shall judge the deceased fairly and justly. The Church also prays for the close relations of the deceased, that the loving and healing touch of God will comfort those torn apart by the impact of the suicide.” In days past, people who made the forever decision to commit suicide were denied a Christian funeral. That’s beyond harsh – and Pope Pius X said, “In the Fifth Commandment God forbids suicide, because man is not the master of his own life no more than of the life of another. Hence the Church punishes suicide by deprivation of Christian burial.” Today, thankfully, it’s understood that God is ultimately the final judge of people places and things – and the Catholic Church has lightened up on its stance on suicide. It’s understood today that God ultimately is the final judge of people, places, and things and thus the Catholic Religion has lightened up its stance on Suicide. National Suicide Prevention Week takes place in September in the United States – where mental health professionals and advocates share tips and advice on suicide prevention – and lay out warning signs, symptoms, myths, facts and more in the hope of stemming the tide and preventing suicide.
Mr. Jarrid Wilson . . . Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Dies by SuicideIn September, pastor and mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson took his life. He was only 30. Just a few hours before his forever decision, he tweeted about Jesus’ compassion for the depressed and suicidal: “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.” This was his last and final tweet before he chose to take his life, leaving behind many fans and followers, a wife and two children. This act of selfishness really hurt Jeff and made him very bitter about who advocates for mental health – and especially those who would also call themselves pastors. Jeff is very protective of this conversation – the conversation around suicide and about eliminating the stigma surrounding it – and feels strongly that whomever advocates must be vigilant about doing the work themselves. If someone with a sizable following is sending a message of hope, that person’s responsibility to others is great. If that person decides to die by suicide, this sends a more powerful message than the original one, the implication being that it was all for naught. “It’s been a tough month.” says Jeff. Wilson had been a long-time advocate for mental health. He and his wife founded “Anthem of Hope,” a Christian outreach for the depressed and suicidal. His death followed that of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, another young, vibrant evangelical pastor and mental health advocate who committed suicide last year.
Teen Suicide is an Epidemic and The Catholic Church has a ResponsibilityThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] reports that suicide rates among working-age Americans (from 16-64) 34 percent between 2000 and 2016. Among Americans aged 10-24, the spike was even more dramatic – CDC data shows a 50 percent increase in suicides in this group between 2000 and 2017. The suicides of these two pastors highlight this concerning upward trend in suicide, especially among young people – even among those who are part of a Christian community. During his visit with the community at Holy Spirit Parish at Geist Catholic Church, Jeff talked about some things our youth are dealing with today that young people didn’t deal with as few as ten years ago. A key point was the fact that today’s youth are connected 24/7/365 and constantly stressed and anxious – living in a world where they are always comparing their lives to those of others. Jeff says in his book, “Teen Suicide: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic” . . . that if you spend more than four to five hours a day on social media or your smartphone you are 70 percent more likely to have major depression in your life. Jeff’s book doesn’t get into the psychological sciences and Catholic spirituality, philosophy and theology. Jeff wrote the book as today’s youth think, reason, and act. It is straightforward and to the point, written in a concrete manner that makes it and easy to understand the depth of teens, their brokenness and why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling. Certainly, one of the driving factors of an increase in suicide among teens and young adults is their constant connectedness to the world through smartphones and the social media platforms, combined with a lack of greater meaning in their lives. According to a 2015 article from the peer-reviewed research journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, “frequent social media use in children and teenagers is associated with poor psychological functioning, as it limits their daily face-to-face interactions, impairing their ability to keep and maintain meaningful relationships.” “The lack of coping skills and problem-solving skills make it very difficult for today’s youth who live in the here and the now to understand that not all things are taken care of in the present moment. Our youth don’t understand that today,” says Yalden. One of the biggest suicide prevention tools that communities of faith can provide, Yalden says, is being full communities of faith, where people feel connected and non-judged, valued, and validated as whole people. Our Churches have to be more involved with families, our youth and more present in our communities – but in non-judgmental ways. Every child needs to have a significant and trusted adult they can reach out to and our churches are filled with so many loving and kind people. Our churches are a great place where a difference can be made immediately. Jeff sends a special thank-you to Holy Spirit Parish at Geist Catholic Church and to Pastor Dan and his staff for having this conversation. If you are interested in Jeff coming to your Church or School Community, please visit www.JeffYalden.com. Purchase you copy of Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic.
“I am alone,” and “I am a burden.”
And what this means is…
The “I am alone” – which is, as Joiner says, a “thwarted belongingness” – represents a belief on the part of the individual that she or she does not have any meaningful relationships.
“I am a burden” – which is a “perceived burdensomeness” represents a belief on the part of the individual that he or she does not make any notable contributions to the world. They think that they serve as a liability.So, when you have the “I am alone” and the “I am a burden,” – that kind of creates the DESIRE FOR SUICIDE – which becomes the capability for suicide over a period of time, and Joiner here again – the “capability for suicide is acquired largely through repeated exposure to painful or fearsome experiences. This results in habituation and, in turn, a higher tolerance for pain and a sense of fearlessness in the face of death.” Habituation is a fancy term for getting used to something. I became a fan of Dr. Joiner as I got into researching the topic of suicide – but more specifically Teen Suicide. When you get to the “I am alone” part, you are like, WHY? Why do teens feel alone today? Why do teens feel like they are a burden – and that they serve as a liability? And then – why do they just feel so hopeless? In all my work in the trenches with teens and talking to teens, I have come to believe that even the most troubled teens don’t want to die. I think it’s that they can’t find a solution to their problems – that the solution is so far out there that they can’t solve it and move forward. Remember: Today’s teens live in the here and the now. Teens don’t know what they don’t know – and there is no way for them to know what the future can hold. And today’s teenagers – the Generation Z kids born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s – are the first teenagers to not know what’s it like to grow up without a smartphone. Let’s look at this: As much as we say suicide is because of this or suicide is because of that – it’s bullying, it’s cyber-bullying, it’s this, it’s that – suicide is never the result of one thing – but one thing can certainly be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The reality is that 90 percent of teen suicides go back to mental illness – and if you think about today’s teens – two of the biggest challenges that we have are coping skills and problem-solving skills. In my work, I find that that teenagers have a really tough time communicating – sharing their feelings – trusting in the circle of adults in their life – and so – when you ask me, “Hey Jeff – what is the greatest thing that you can give teenagers today,” I don’t even hesitate. I say, “self-esteem.” But where does self-esteem come from? Self-esteem comes from being challenged and overcoming those challenges. I think self-esteem comes from social interaction. It comes from involvement with your friends and family – relationships. Self-esteem comes from being outside – coping through life – problem-solving through your challenges. Self-esteem is something we build every day as a result of being more active. I think three things are really important to a teen’s mental health:
1) SLEEP 2) NUTRITION – Today’s teenagers are consuming over 200 grams more sugar a day than they should be consuming in a 24-hour period – and sugar is directly related to depression. 3) MORE ACTIVITY/MORE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENTThese three things play a significant role in one’s mental health. Some say that Generation Z – the young people born after 1995 – are more likely to experience mental health issues than their Millennial predecessors. Today’s adolescents are at even greater risk of mental health problems – and so you keep asking the questions “Why are today’s teens worse off than the Millennials?” And then, “Why are today’s adolescents in worse shape than Generation Z?” Why… Let’s look at 2012. That is the time when smartphones surged into the lives of our teens – and with that, in 2012 – over 50 percent of our teens had smartphones, so they started to get more invested in social media, YouTube, the Internet, group texting – In 2015 – they say over 73 percent of our teens had access to a smartphone. Today – 2018 – over 90 percent of our kids have access to a smartphone. From 2012-2018 – in those six years, the smartphone became something that was very much more common in the lives of our teens. Not just more common, but more widely-used for longer periods of time. From 2010-2015, surveys said that 35 percent of teens felt alone and a burden. Feeling alone and a burden, going back to Thomas Joiner’s theory from 2005 – well, those are symptoms of suicide – and they are symptoms of suicide today. They even said that suicide surged 23 percent – and teen suicide surged 31 percent – and that’s where we are at. These are alarming numbers causing great concern – and we are asking why. Let’s not just jump to the conclusion that, “Whoa – Jeff is blaming this on smartphones.” Hold on. I just want to continue asking why. Why is this? Moving forward – 2012-2018 – that’s six years. More teens were depressed. Greater anxiety. Trouble communicating. Withdrawal. Social isolation – hopelessness – and seeing suicide as the solution to their problems. Again – why? All signs point to the sudden ascendance of the smartphone. As more and more teens gained access to a smartphone, more and more teens were feeling depressed – and suicide kept increasing in great numbers. It’s important to note here that these same surveys say that from 2010-2015 – the time doing homework barely budged. Why is this important? It’s important because it rules out academic pressure as the cause of teen suicide. So – here’s my theory: Smartphone? If you are on your smartphone four to five hours a day or more, you are 70 percent more likely to have mental health issues. Mental health professionals say that one to two hours a day is the safe zone. Going by these numbers – I think it’s pretty safe to say that time spent online affects a teen’s overall mental health. Right. OK. Now – could it be that instead of time online causing depression – maybe depression causes more time online, one might ask. And so – these studies show that this is unlikely. My theory: Depression might cause people to spend more time online – but why did depression increase so much after 2012? More teens became depressed for an unknown reason, and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.
WHAT’S MISSINGYou might say that online time doesn’t affect mental health directly – but it still adversely affects mental health in indirect ways – especially if time online interrupts time for other activities. That’s that social engagement – that’s the other activities with friends and family – less smartphones, social media – more time problem-solving, coping, and one-on-one communication. Again – going back to self-esteem – it’s safe to say that a teen spending time online interrupts time for activities where they could be building their self-esteem – (what I just mentioned: coping skills, problem-solving, communication) – life skills that are essential to their growth as a young adult. I hope you are following me here. Teens spend much less time today interacting with friends and family. Without interaction, our moods start to suffer, and depression follows. Going back to Dr. Joiner – “I am alone – I am a burden.” Those two things lead to sadness. They lead to depression – and the “I am alone – I am a burden” – isolation is also a big factor in suicide ideation – better known as suicidal thoughts. Let’s look at the amount of time being alone – the amount of time where you feel you are a burden. That brings the desire for suicide – Dr. Joiner’s theory is making sense – more so today – and the capability for suicide grows out of repeated exposure to painful or fearsome experiences Now – this is starting to make a lot more sense when we look at time online – teens are more likely to be depressed, while making friends and engaging socially and in-person builds their self-esteem. In 2012, this is what started to happen: Online versus in-person social engagement. Online harms mental health. In-person social engagement benefits mental health. Remember: 90 percent of suicides. At the core, at the foundation are mental health issues. I already mentioned that proper sleep and nutrition are a huge benefit to the mental well-being of our young people. They also need to get more involved. This is good for their self-esteem. Is this research definitive enough? Maybe not. Is it too soon to recommend less screen time? The solution seems to be clear: If less screen time can help lessen your child’s chances of falling into depression, then the danger of doing nothing can be high. Think about the possible consequences. If we do nothing, then we’re taking a huge risk. A couple more things before I wrap this up: Going back to Dr. Joiner’s theory: “I am alone” is like, “I don’t have meaningful relationships. “I am a burden.” This is about expectations. Today’s teens have greater stress. They have the expectations that might not be realistic. They have the fear of not knowing who they are or what they want to do. That’s the “I am a burden.” And the desire for suicide – that’s the pain lasting and building up. Also – the Dopamine effect from the social media, the Internet and YouTube – it’s like – “I want more, I want more, I want more…” When you are spending four, five hours a day on your smartphone, the Dopamine effect is more and more and more – versus one-to-two-hours – you have less of the “I want more, I want more.” So what does all of this lead to? Our teens are on 24/7 – 365. This is leading to depression, isolation – a feeling that they are not worthy. They want to be validated with “likes” on social media – and social isolation is arguably the strongest and most reliable predictor of suicidal thoughts. Social isolation leads to loneliness, social withdrawal, living alone with little social support – living in non-intact families. All of this really isn’t helping. I think it comes down to vigilant parenting, less time online, more social and emotional learning – mindfulness practice – meditation – reducing the stigma of mental health, and letting people know that it is OK to ask for help. To wrap this up: Self-esteem: Again, social interaction, sleep, health, exercise, nutrition, activity. Self-esteem: Involvement, communication, coping skills, problem-solving skills. Self-esteem: You’re not afraid to ask for help. Social Isolation: “I am alone. I am a burden.” When our young people are interacting, they are learning. They’ve got friends. They are figuring themselves out – their identities – they are growing – they have trust – companionship – problem-solving and coping skills – laughter and better communication. A couple of things, lastly – Smartphone. Addiction. Isolation. Sadness. Loneliness. Lack of growth, The Dopamine effect. Diminished life skills. It makes sense that Joiner’s “I am alone” / “I am a burden” is a problem. You see where social media is really adding to that. And then the desire for suicide that emerges from suicidal thoughts stemming from repeated exposure to painful or fear-inducing experiences that these kids go through. Again – I don’t think students want to die. I think they live in the here and the now – and so they feel like they can never reach solutions to their problems and move on with their lives. And with the here and the now – everything is just so readily available to them. I mean, you text somebody and you get an immediate response. You pick up your smartphone and someone is automatically there. You go to the bank – and an ATM spits out cash. I think the biggest problems with our youth today are the lack of coping skills and problem-solving skills. If we could focus more on social and emotional learning in our schools, I think we would do an awesome job of getting our kids to spend less time on their smartphones and more time interacting – I think that would make a huge life-changing difference. For more information about Jeff Yalden, go HERE. Find out about Jeff’s new nonprofit, THE JEFF YALDEN FOUNDATION To book Jeff now, call (800) 948-9289