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Today I received a shocking phone call from my family, who live in a wealthy country. A 19-year-old young and not yet stable adult, whom I have taken very much to my heart, has said goodbye in writing to the friends of his shared flat where he has been living for some time, left behind his mobile phone and computer as their future possessions and has been searched for by the family and police for days without result. It was as if a piece of me had gone.
This young man has since contacted the mother by phone from a nearby town. So he is alive. I am not yet aware of further circumstances. But whatever happened, I have known one thing for a long time, and as a father, grandfather, former teacher, school counsellor and school psychologist, as an educational scientist and graduate psychologist, I am repeating it for the umpteenth time: You fathers and mothers, you teachers, educators, company foremen, friends, relatives and acquaintances, talk to your children, to the young people entrusted to you or living with you, be worthwhile role models for them, listen to them and try to find out how they are really doing, how they feel, what is close to their hearts!
For months, depression, fear of life, suicidal thoughts and completed suicides have been increasing by leaps and bounds among the young generation. Children tell their mothers that they no longer want to live. Psychologists and youth psychiatrists in psychiatric institutions are sounding the alarm. But many adults ignore all the warnings, know better, have no problems at home or at school, in a club, at work or in a shared flat; only the others have them.
How are young people supposed to find their way in a world in which we adults have not been able to find our way for a long time because it has gone off the rails? Every day, new instructions come “from above” – ostensibly to protect our health: We are robbed of our freedom,