School And Teen Suicide
I have a suspicion that most adults in the United States view the institution of high school in a generally positive light, and if they do, I wouldn’t be able to fault them: any chance to earn a living in an advanced economy without what is essentially a civilization-scale daycare would be limited. Parents couldn’t work without the American school system, and their children would have little hope, if any, of earning decent livelihoods themselves without it. If I were a parent, I’d see high school as net positive.
What this means though is that adults most likely don’t view high school in the retrospective light of their own experience, but mostly through the frame they have as parents. If you had a nationwide survey that asked parents whether they personally enjoyed their high school experience, most would probably say no. And most current high school students would agree with that feeling.
In a survey of nearly 22,000 students, the Yale Child Study Center found that almost 75% of students view high school negatively. And I understand this, high school sucks, it makes learning a non-explorative chore and places machine-like scheduling and work demands on the most fun-oriented creatures on earth. I hated high school, it wasn’t hard, but it was the least fun thing imaginable when my hormones were blazing new paths in my mind dedicated to going wild.
I grew 5 inches in a year, my voice dropped two octaves, my chin became a burgeoning garden of hair, I suddenly wanted to abscond across the border with any girl I’d see. Dizzying interest in high risk, lips dripping with youthful insouciance, heart overflowing with nonsensical rebellion, thoughts teeming with clownishness; the most brusque, inappropriate feelings radiated from me like light from a nearby fire, and all while there were strict proscriptions on these sorts of things! And this is not to mention the peer dynamics, which add a layer of unpleasantness beyond what most people would find acceptable for their children.
But recently I came across data which showed me that things are actually much worse than I assumed: school isn’t just an unpleasant business, the school year actually tracks with the rate of teen suicide, with suicide plummeting for teens during the months of summer and winter breaks:
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