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Remember sixth grade when we were filled with the exuberance of youth? Life stretched out before us like an airport runway and we were taxiing into position for takeoff.

I was fortunate enough at age 12 to have been a happy child with a supportive home life that was largely responsible for my positive attitude toward being in this wondrous world.

Sadly enough, evil and devastating winds of change have since whipped through our country to ruin so many promising young lives.

Boston Children's Hospital reports 12-year-olds in our troubled society are either contemplating suicide or taking their lives in alarming numbers; suicide is the third-leading cause of death among children that age.

In 2011, 5,014 children and adolescents reportedly died from suicide. Research shows a child's suicidal thoughts and behaviors are the greatest predictors of suicide. These include passive imagining of wanting to be dead, recurring thoughts about ending one's life, "rehearsing" killing oneself, and actually attempting suicide.

I also read there are about 25 attempts for every successful suicide, and about 2 million children and adolescents attempt suicide each year. Studies show 8.5 percent of high school students attempted suicide; 3 percent made an attempt requiring medical treatment. An estimated 12 percent of children between 6 and 12 experience suicidal thoughts. These are staggering numbers to me.

They compare with suicide being the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.

Lest one believe such figures are flukes or statistical outliers, when you sample just those between 10 and 24 years old, taking one's own life becomes the second-leading cause of death.

The suicide rate reportedly is four times higher among males, but females make an attempt to kill themselves three times more often.

I chose to write about the deeply disturbing trend today hoping wider awareness might help stem or prevent the rising tide of youthful self destruction. If you suspect even slightly that your child might be depressed or harboring such dark thoughts, I hope you'll reach out quickly for help to benefit yourself and your child.

There's certainly no doubt any suicide, particularly one involving a child, sends catastrophic shock waves through the hearts and minds of families and friends across their lifetimes.

Decades of advice

I read the other day about what we supposedly should expect as we move through the various decades of our lifetime. For instance, between 50 and 60, the fundamental advice was primarily to stay relevant by investing time and energy in remaining current with trends.

It also supposedly is the decade to become humble enough to learn from those younger, while offering them mentorship and guidance as they seek it. The 50-somethings should be involved in projects by consulting for work they know can bring them value while practicing hobbies and passions.

"At some point we all must admit that life is short, not all of our dreams can come true ... so carefully choose what you have the best shot at and commit to it," the article on Omnicom MediaGroup advised.

I made it through that decade by actually following some of this advice. But in so many other ways, this wasn't my road to follow. I was too committed to what I felt was my "best shot" by continuing to write.

As for life beyond 60, well, again I fell short of the author's view of normal folks' lives. "You did many great things, worked both smart and hard. Now you've reached the age where your energy and circumstances no longer allow you to aggressively pursue your purpose," the story said, saying it was the time to enjoy the finer things in life and "travel the world, putter around in your garden and give back to your community. Spend time with friends you never really had enough time for in the past. Tick those remaining 'to-do' things off your bucket list."

While I have helped Jeanetta somewhat with her garden greenhouse, made a trip to Branson last week (that's traveling the world, right?), and do spend time with friends on the golf course and elsewhere, I'm still too busy aggressively pursuing my purpose to perch on the porch and have Alexa play Barbra Streisand while reflecting on memories of the way things were.

"Success in life comes from the amalgamation of your unique set of circumstances, mistakes, relationships and experiences," the story concludes. "Forget about having the perfect life or making the right decisions. Trust your intuition and success will be yours."

Finally, I got something right with these life coaches. I have indeed made plenty of poor decisions while living far from the perfect life. However, I always have trusted my intuition. Now I'm trying to figure out how these people would define if I was successful. If it's evaluated by riches, I'm admittedly a failure.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Editorial on 11/05/2019

Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: So many lost


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