If you’re a parent reading this book, please know that our shut up book and ministry isn’t about bashing parents, coaches, teachers or the other good people who are trying to help teens today. Most parents I know are doing our very best to give our kids a good life and we want them to have a happy future.
Some of what you read in my shut up book, or hear on this website, may be hard to hear and even offend some people. What is happening among teens and young adults today should offend all of us. One of the reasons so many parents are pushing their kids to do well in academics, sports or other activities is that we feel pressure from the society that this is the “right” thing to do. We live in a society where the pressure for our kids to compete in academics, sports, music, dance, drama (and the list goes on) is huge. Parents, teachers and coaches are all trying to give our kids great lives. But what the teens are telling us now, if we will listen, is that the pressure is having unintended consequences.
As I write this book, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. It results in approximately 4600 lives lost each year. More young people survive suicide attempts than actually die. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9-12 in public and private schools in the United States (U.S.) found that 16% of students seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan, and 8% reporting trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey. Each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the US. (NIMH Fact Sheet on Suicide, CDC Suicide Prevention – Youth Suicide (2015, March)
In 2011, the American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment (ACHA–NCHA—a nationwide survey of college students at 2- and 4-year institutions—found that about 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year. About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by 18 according to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Girls are more likely than boys to experience depression. The risk for depression increases as a child gets older. According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15-44. Source: NIMH Fact Sheet on Depression in Adolescents (Most doctors and psychologists will tell you that these statistics are actually much higher than these studies report, because many teens and young adults are not reporting their problems and choose to tell no one and remain isolated in their pain.)
God called me to write this shut up book after a 16 year old boy ended his life. This boy grew up in a Christian family and I knew his family well. These friends have a deep faith in Jesus and some of the best people you could ever meet in this life. Seeing how this could happen to such a loving family is part of how God called me into this mission of understanding society’s pressure on youth and the other forces of darkness that are targeting our kids today.
Let me warn you ahead of time. Many of the stories in this book and statistics might shock you. They shocked me. We’ve had input from over 600 teens as we’ve been writing this book. Their stories would break your heart.
I come from a family of medical doctors. I’ve also worked in a clinical setting as a counselor. Right now, I’m an author, conference speaker and pastor. My greatest joy in life is being a wife and mom of three wonderful kids who are now teenagers. Many good people are trying to help this generation who is suffering. Psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, counselors, social workers, youth pastors, underpaid heroic teachers and parents who are doing their best to raise kids in this difficult world. Despite all the help available to teens today, the epidemic of teenage depression, anxiety, drugs, bullying, cyber bullying, cutting, eating disorders and suicide is increasing at an alarming rate.
What I can tell you is that from my experience over the past two years researching these issues, interviewing doctors, talking with hundreds of teenagers, the stories and statistics in this book are only the tip of a huge iceberg. If you think these problems aren’t widespread among young people that you know, think again. Social media, television and video games today bombard our teens with images of sex, porn, drug and alcohol abuse and violence. Young people are under more pressure than ever before and the epidemic is real.
This week I received calls from two different parents with teenagers who were hospitalized (on suicide watch) because of stress over the SAT test. Wow. In our San Francisco Bay Area, three kids committed suicide by jumping in front of the train (this month). This is an epidemic in the Bay Area. Recently, one girl jumped off a bridge into highway traffic and died. This stuff is really happening. Things that never happened decades ago is now “normal.” (My generation rarely heard about suicide happening and now most teens know about someone who is depressed, cutting, suicidal, doing drugs or privately suffering and telling no one). Some parents think that once their child reaches college, they will be safe from these problems troubling middle and high school students. What you may not know is the largest suicide rate is among college age youth people (age 20-24). (NIMH Fact Sheet on Suicide, CDC Suicide Prevention – Youth Suicide (2015, March).
My heart is broken for teens today. My heart is broken for the loving parents who want to help but don’t know how. The shut up book and our shut up ministry is an attempt to help us all, kids and adults together, to stand against these forces and reclaim God’s clear loving voice over and against all the negative stuff. I believe there is hope. For every sad story I hear, I also see amazing stories of teens who are overcoming these odds to become incredible young men and women.
Let me be very clear. This book is not about telling parents or any person to shut up. The purpose of this book is to help your kids experience God’s love in a personal way that empowers them to shut up the negative and dark voices inside their heads. These are the destructive voices that are pushing kids to do drugs, sleep around, cut themselves, starve themselves or even commit suicide. Our kids are under tremendous spiritual warfare in addition to the society’s pressure. This book and our sayshutup.com website help young people understand the different thoughts, voices, and messages inside their minds and empowers them to silence those dark and negative voices with God’s power. Whether you are a Christian or not, I invite you to read the stories of the many young people who have experienced healing and freedom through God’s love.
Finally, this book is written specifically for young people. It’s for teenagers and young adults, written with the help of over 1000 teenagers and college students. I’m honored to know these amazing young people. While this book is written for teens (the parent version of shut up is coming out soon) I would invite you to read it, so that you might better understand teens today and join the army of people God is raising up to love and help hurting teens in today’s world. My prayer is that God uses this book to bring healing, hope and freedom to these heroic young people so that they might help others suffering in their generation.
Want To Be A Part?
Are you interested in partnering with us to make a difference in the lives of students in crisis? We have so many ways that we would love for your be a part of our ministry. Find out more about how you can pray and donate to our ministry.
Invite To Speak
Christy, Julie and a team of teens travel for speaking engagements to Christian conferences, churches and schools. We love to encourage and inspire teens and college students that they can learn how to discern the voices in their minds and learn how to shut up the negative and destructive ones. We also bring with us ministry teams who pray for teens who want to experience hearing God’s voice and become more confident in silencing the negative voices.