In the immortal words of George Carlin: “Listen, kids don’t smoke because the camel in sunglasses tells them to. They smoke for the same reasons adults do: because it relieves anxiety and depression.”
The March 15 Columbian story “More youth consider suicide” reporting teen smoking rates going down while thoughts of suicide go up illustrates an important point about the way we try to deal with mental health: by regarding issues like drug abuse as a personal choice, without really wondering why a person makes that choice. We try to treat the symptoms rather than the disease. So often our brains try to paint problems as absolutes, when in fact, the reasons and solutions are varied and unique.
Unfortunately for us, “zero tolerance” policies can’t really be enforced when it comes to suicide.