In 2014 alone, some 42,773 Americans killed themselves, making suicide the tenth leading cause of death for all ages, and prompting calls to treat it as a public health issue of paramount importance, alongside cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer.
A new report by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that suicide rates in the US have soared since 1999, with the most dramatic increases occurring among white females aged 10-14 and Native Americans.
Although suicide rates in the US were decreasing between 1986 and 1999, since then they have climbed steadily, escalating at an annual rate of two per cent since 2006.
In 2014, the most frequent suicide method among males involved guns (55.5 percent), while poisoning was the most frequent method for females (34.1 percent).
Yet not just guns, pills and poisons are involved. In 2014, 25 percent of all suicides were by suffocation, including hanging.
And there are no easy explanations as to why.
Suicide is a complex phenomenon, one driven by psychological, biological and social factors, including the economic downturn, easy access to guns, social isolation and depression, social contagion (where the death of others by suicide encourages friends or acquaintances to do likewise) and age factors like puberty or mid-life crisis.
However, I would posit that there is another potent factor that contributes to the rising suicide rates in the U.S., and worldwide – the theory of evolution.
When people believe that they are no more than evolved monkeys; have no purpose other than to eat, drink and be merry; are governed by no higher ideal than the survival of the fittest and can see no further than the grave; then life becomes "meaningless, a chasing after the wind," as wise King Solomon said in the Biblical book of Proverbs.
What makes life worth living is knowing who we are, where we came from, why we are here and where we are going to when we die.
Christianity answers all of those questions. It teaches that we are made in the image of a God who loves us, who created us with a destiny and who has a unique plan for each of us. Rather than our own selfish gain being the highest goal, it teaches that other people are worth serving and respecting because each one is God's precious eternal soul, whom He loves and died for. And it teaches that there is life beyond the grave and these 70-odd years are just a training day in the light of eternity, which makes all we do worthwhile and purpose-filled.
We are like nuts and bolts, cogs and rivets, useless by ourselves but put us together in the great machine of God's plan and the part each one plays is vital.
Once we personally know the God who made and loves us and who is in control of all things, then our seemingly pointless trials and joys have their part and find their meaning in a much bigger picture – His story.•