Is Cannabis the Answer for Soaring Teen Suicides?
The numbers are staggering. In just the past 20 years there has been a 77% increase in suicides for kids between 10-17 years old. Many experts have looked at the problem and are still trying to figure out what is going on. What are “cluster suicides” and why do a group of young men and women in one small geographic area start to kill themselves? Professional studies have looked at family situations, access to fire-arms, violence, and other mitigating factors to try and make some sense out of why so many 10 to 17-year-olds feel such a sense of hopelessness and pain that they decide to kill themselves.
General suicide rates are up a staggering 38% among the general population since 1999, but the increase is most dramatic in teens. The rise of social media and “competing” with the perfect lives they see on Instagram is one theory. The same social media networks created to bring “social” benefit has actually created a new form of isolationism. The same networks meant to bring us together, are really giving us reasons to NOT get together or make a phone call as we see and comment on everyone’s lives through a 3rd party platform in the shape of heart symbols and “thumbs up” emojis.
Is there too much stress and anxiety in young people, and if so, where are they getting it? One theory believes it is the stress and anxiety they are seeing in their parents and adult teachers, and it is a learned reaction to how to handle a tense moment, a mimic if you will. Others look at how social media has created a cyber-bulling, no-holds-bar trolling environment where if you are a misfit online, then what is the point of living a real life. More and more schools are giving less and less homework because of studies showing kids and teens have anxiety, stress, and thoughts of killing themselves. The thought behind this plan is to allow for more “family time” and less of the stressful studying and homework.
Is this a byproduct of never letting the generation under 22-years-olds fail at anything? This generation never had a chance to fail and learn how to deal with adversity as “everyone gets a participation medal” and “we don’t keep score in any game” was their mantra. Well, now that generation is getting told no for the first time, whether it is a job interview, a sporting event, or for an extension of credit on their credit cards, or a new home equity loan. If this generation was allowed to fail, lose a 5th grade soccer game or music contest, would they be better equipped on how to deal with stress and failure in their 20s?
The general theme is hopelessness. Looking to the future and seeing no reason to continue living, not for a week, not for year, and not for 5 years. There is just no hope, no way to see a better life, no way to happiness.
How Cannabis Can Help
Cannabis is becoming a wonderful alternative to Big Pharma drugs for things like anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, epilepsy, autism (in some areas), and a plethora more of reasons. Chronic pain and fibromyalgia are two reasons that new research is now looking at how cannabis works with the body’s central nervous system and how cannabinoids are helping to heal neurons and frayed nerves.
Instead of No Homework, How about Some Cannabis?
The shock and awe factor of that sentence will bring a scorn of criticism my way, but when the option is a person killing themselves, what do you have to lose? Literally, this is life or death, so why not test and experiment.
We already know cannabis is helping thousands with stress and anxiety, two highly mentioned causes of sending teens down a death spiral of hopelessness. The fear factor of giving kids cannabis, of course under medical supervision, would still ravage the conservative internet. Rumors of psychosis outbreaks and teen driving accidents while under the influence would rage in the headlines. Parents would fear a zombie apocalypse of stoned kids sitting on couches in their basements eating burritos the rest of their lives, never moving out, never seeming motived. Oh wait, that already is the biggest burden to Baby Boomers and sums up the current state of millennials already, BEFORE legalized cannabis went mainstream. 31% of millennials with their parents or a family member, they have over $ 22,000 in debt from student loans and credit cards, and they have an average starting salary of $ 32,000 a year.
Again, we are already in dire straits, what do we have to lose? The test is between life and death, why not try it.
Why We Should At Least Try It
Cannabis is a plant. People have used this plant for over 5,000 years for such things as medicine and healing oils. It was completely legal in the US unit about 85 years ago, often sold in drugstores and pharmacies as a cure-all medicine for a wide variety of alignments. It was not made illegal because of some medical change or discovery in the plant, it was made illegal by politicians in order to protect the steel, wood, and metal industries from hemp. It was also made illegal under Richard Nixon as a way to suppress the growing African-American and Mexican US population. Again, nothing whatsoever has changed with the plant, but those in charge of laws in the US, changed their minds about the plant as it started to threaten major corporations.
Do you really thing Big Pharma drugs are better for suicidal teens? Read the side-effects of some of these drugs. Did you know that some depression drugs list “may increase suicidal thoughts” as a side effect of their depression drug? Really, so taking a drug to not make me feel depressed my increase the times I think about wanting to kill myself? Like they said, if the disease doesn’t kill you the cure will.
Cannabis can be given in a variety of easy to regulate ways. Sam and Johnny don’t have to smoke a joint in their rooms. They can use tinctures drops or medicated edibles to control health and time effects of the plant. Studies and look at micro-dosing cannabis as a healthy way to deal with stress and anxiety as opposed to daily doses of valium or Prozac.
What about the teen brain doesn’t develop fully until the age of 22 and that cannabis can impede the brain growth or change it in young brains? Again, you are talking about either someone killing themselves or using cannabis as a help to stay alive. Brain development is over when someone takes their life, so you take the living breathing person first, and worry about cannabis on developing brains later.
If my son or daughter was at risk of suicide and I have looked into all options, including therapy and current drugs on the market, cannabis would most certainly be on the list of things to talk about with him or her and something I would recommend to them if it had any chance to help them deal with the hopelessness, and feelings suicidal teens feel and are trying to deal with at any given moment.