"Young people and teenagers are the most valuable asset of a nation and should be a major concern of all those who have responsibilities in their formation" said Bishop Ariel Edgardo Torrado Mosconi of Santiago del Estero, a province of Argentina that lies close to Paraguay. He was expressing his growing concern over a perceived increase in the incidence of teen suicide in his country.
Bishop Torrado Mosconi said education plays an important role in teaching values to youngsters in order to face their difficulties. "One can love children even if one says 'no' to some of their needs. God should be present in homes through daily family prayer, the appreciation of spiritual realities and domestic peace. One should strive to offer important values that give meaning to the effort and sacrifice for the sake of an ideal", he wrote, according to the Fides news service.
"Unfortunately, many young people grow up without the consciousness of God's presence. Without hope, without adequate family support, without real friends, without faith formation, without the opportunity to study or work. There are many who are marginalized by society and are often treated as "leftovers".
Furthermore, said the prelate of teenagers, "They want to escape from their situation, sometimes to the point of committing suicide."
According to Argentina's Directorate for Health and Social Welfare, the number of youth suicides has increased in parallel to the growth of violence among adolescents. Also in Argentina, in 1991-2000 the suicide mortality rate increased from 1.5% to 6.1%, especially in the age group between 15 and 24. "Psycho-social diseases, lack of goals, drug use, lack of role models and values, are key triggers of suicide", says the Argentine report. In 2010, Argentina media reports suggested that suicide was the second-most frequent cause of death among teenagers.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.