Mayan Apocalypse Fears Causing Some Kids to Contemplate Suicide
End of world fears have sent some teens and adults into a state of anxiety and despair so deep that they have considered taking their own lives.
David Morrison, an astronomer and senior scientist with NASA, operates "Ask an Astrobiologist" for the space agency, in which he responds to astrological questions from everyday citizens. But lately, he says, people have become preoccupied with the purported Mayan Apocalypse, December 21, 2012.
Recently, Morrison told USA.gov, "At least once a week I get a message from a young person—as young as 11—who says they are and/or will contemplate suicide because of the [alleged] coming doomsday."
NASA continues to debunk apocalypse myths and warns people against terrifying the mentally vulnerable, “frightened children and suicidal teens who truly fear the world may come to an end,” LiveScience.com reported on November 28 after an online NASA session over Google+ designed to quell doomsday fears.
While the supposed apocalypse is based on false information—the Mayan calendar didn’t end on the 21st, but the inconsequential Mayan calendar cycle, the 13th b’ak’tun, did—some people remain terrified that the world will cease to exist within the next couple days.
An article in the Examiner advises parents in how to talk to their children to assuage their fears. The Portland, Oregon-based “parenting” author recommends speaking with confidence—not fueling kids’ nightmares with possibilities or uncertainty. She also stresses the importance of making future plans and sticking to a comforting bedtime routine.
Even without doomsday anxieties, the holidays season is not very cheerful for many people struggling with any number of things. Jessica Danforth, executive director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, puts things into perspective.
“Apocalypse or not the reality is that the holiday season in general can be a difficult time for a lot of people, whether they are alone or without family, or very real issues like poverty or violence happening in their lives,” Danforth said. “It's always a good time to reach out to others who may be struggling or whose holidays may not necessarily be ‘merry’, as well as to think about action-planning around a time when depression, sadness or even suicide can happen but can also be prevented. Action-planning things, like how to deal with anger and frustration, being supportive and seeking help can be a [good] place to start.
December 21st is also the Winter Solstice, which has always been a time of change and renewal. It's up to us to decide what change is possible!"