One million people killed themselves, this year, with weapons, poisoning or jumping from high places. By the year 2020 it is predicted that this number will rise to a million and a half deaths per year. That’s not just a statistic - its millions and millions of tragic deaths – about 1 every 40 seconds. What’s more, between 10 and 20 million people are trying to kill themselves every year but haven’t succeeded yet. That’s far more death than we are losing to war. Can you calculate the amount of pain and anguish there is in the world? We’re being flooded by a tidal wave of depression and mental torment that is beyond our ability to absorb, comprehend and stop. Why? What’s causing all of this?
The answer can be found in the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. First let’s shed some light on this trend by examining the differences between the U.S rate of suicide with that of the state of Israel – the difference is dramatic. In a lengthy and detailed study, CDC reported thatthe United States has the highest rate of childhood suicide compared with 25 other industrialized countries. During 1950-1993, suicide rates for American children and adolescents quadrupled. In 1994, amongst American children aged 5-14 suicide was the sixth leading cause of death. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for American children between the ages of 10 and 14. The suicide rate for children in the United States was two times higher thanthat in the other 25 countries combined.
The incidence of suicide in Israel between 1985-1997 was reported by the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience: Suicide rates in Israel are among the lowest in the world.11Although there was an overall increase in suicide rates between 1987 and 1990, it was moderate. The highest rates of suicide, between 1991 and 1997, coincided with massive immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union, which as a country, has the third highest suicide rate in the world. The prestigious Journal of the American Academy of child and adolescent psychiatry reported: The suicide rates among the youth in Israel, as in adults, are among the lowest in the world. The almost worldwide trend of increasing suicide among the young is only partially present in Israel.
In an article entitled "Adolescent Depression and Suicide Risk Association with Sex and Drug Behaviors.", the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, (vol. 27 no. 3), reported the following: the rate of American teenage suicide between 1960 and 2001 has doubled and that teen sexual activity also dramatically increased during that period. Let's examine the facts: Over 25% of sexually active teenage girls’ report that they are depressed all or most of the time. Less than 8% of girls who are not sexually active are depressed all or most of the time. Boys who are sexually active are also more than twice as likely to be depressed as boys who are not sexually active. Girls who are sexually active are almost three times more likely to attempt suicide than girls who abstain. Sexually active boys are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, PhD, is an internationally noted psychologist, researcher and author in the area of sexual addiction. Dr. Carnes claims to have studied more than 100,000 cases of sexual addiction. His findings are alarming to say the least: two thirds of American students in Junior High School are watching pornography online while doing their homework and 34% of these children will become sexually addicted. In the history of man, there has never been a greater test of mans’ ability to withstand sexual immorality than the internet. Cybersex, writes Dr. Carnes, so overwhelmingly stimulates the brain that people are driven deeper and deeper into perversity, violence, depression and suicide.
The correlation between sexual promiscuity, depression and suicide is very clear. Multitudes of people are attempting to fill up what they feel is lacking in themselves with sex - this breeds guilt, self-hatred, emptiness and shame. They are further drawn into fantasy and away from reality, hope and love. They become out-of-touch with themselves and disconnected from their parents, teachers and peers. They try to plug into fantasy and feel whole, but they end up broken until eventually – they lose themselves completely.
The Jewish people’s covenant with G-d is centered on sexual purity. It calls for a high standard of moral behavior in thought, word and deed. Moreover, the commandment to maintain sexual purity (known as guarding the Bris) is the main mitzvah of the Torah which includes all of the others. There are 613 Mitzvahs in the Torah. The word Bris has the numerical value of 612. Guarding the Bris from defilement – is equivalent to keeping the rest of the Torah. The Holy Zohar defines a Tzaddik as one who guards his Bris (Zohar I, 59b). In essence, by maintaining sexual purity he keeps the entire Torah.
The land of Israel, says Rebbe Nachman, is a powerful spiritual correction for sexual immorality for those come for that reason. The motive for making Aliyah, says the Rebbe, must be purely spiritual: to draw closer to G-d. A person who comes for this reason will surely succeed. If however a person’s motive for moving to Israel has nothing to do with devotion to G-D and cleansing himself of his evil, then the Land will vomit him out “as it vomited out the nation that was before you” (Leviticus 18:28) The Rebbe also tells us that the source of the holiness in Israel that can reverse this problem comes from the graves of the Tzaddikim who are buried here. Recital of the special ten psalms of the Rebbe known as the “General Remedy” is also a powerful rectification for sexual sins.
Reb Shalom Arush said that he heard from Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender (1897–1989 the Rabbi and leader of the Breslov community in Uman, Ukraine and Jerusalem) that every single Jew has a share in Jerusalem and should own a home in and live in Jerusalem. The holiness of Jerusalem is the epitome of holiness which frees a person from impurity, depression and sadness.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: firstname.lastname@example.org call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line).