Mass school shootings, teen suicides, bullying. These unfortunate realities slap us in the face hard every time we turn on the news.
I once made the argument that this has always been the case. With social media, we just hear about it more often.
Related - Does Exercise Help With Depression?
I was wrong.
Things ARE getting worse. If you read my piece on America’s youth being too “unfit” to serve in our military, you know how I feel about the direction of our society and how I feel we can fix it, and this is no different.
The decline of the mental state of our youth was confirmed by a CDC (Center for Disease Control) study conducted for the years 2006-2016. Suicides by white children between the ages of 10 and 17 increased 70 percent in those 10 years. Black children and teens, while less likely to commit suicide, has a suicide rate increase of 77 percent, even higher than those of white children.
Also, according to a story reported by CNN, suicide rates among girls rose by 40% in 2015.
As a father, I am alarmed, shocked and motivated to help.
I donate my time to help inner-city youth and recovering teen-addicts multiple times a month. I see what’s going on. The world is a sick place, and the heroin epidemic has made it even worse.
Social media, bullying, and drugs are the main culprits cited by the study authors. While those are definitely factors that play a role, the physical decline of our society as a whole, including our youth, is a huge factor being neglected.
While exercise and gym memberships are on the rise, obesity is also increasing.  And while food control is the main issue with this statistic, it is a bigger issue.
Processed food is a huge issue
A diet high in processed foods has been linked to depression, cognitive delay, and sleep problems.  Processed food can be described as most fast food options, pastries, and packaged carb-based foods.
By eating this junk food, they are not only NOT helping the compounding new issues like social media creeping into their lives outside of school to take bullying even further, they are messing up the hormones in their brains that will make them even more depressed.
As depression progresses, suicide becomes more and more likely. And I speak on this from experience since my own mom was a suicidal drug addict for a large portion of my life. What she ate, I am positive, didn’t help her own demons.
She was known to survive on a diet of “Nilla wafers” and vodka. By making the main component of children’s diets nutritious, whole foods, we can help them tremendously with that one adjustment. But if we don’t correct it, it is a huge compounding factor in these major societal issues.
Combine processed junk with lack of activity and you have a new systemic issue…
Kids are lazy and there is little to no physical education in schools
According to the CDC, “Only 21.6% of 6 to 19-year-old children and adolescents in the United States attained 60 or more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on at least five days per week. Only 27.1% of high school students participate in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all 7 days of the week.”
Plus, only 19 states require physical education at all in schools. 
What does this tell us? They need to move.
Exercise has been linked to happiness, better self-esteem, better grades and basically, a super-better-awesome quality of life.  This will help with all aspects of why they are sad and with improved self-esteem, they have something to live for and suicide becomes a much lower possibility.
For more on children training, see my article here.
I feel so helpless, what can I do?
It is up to us, the influencers, to help. Personally, I spend as much time as humanly possible training with and showing my kids ways to be active and to teach them about nutrition. It starts at home.
Once you have that locked in, donate your time to organizations that help mentor youth like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and other great organizations. One child at a time is all it takes and if we all do our part, we can secure a brighter future for our society and help make this country, and this entire world, healthy and strong.
Comment down below and share with us how YOU contribute to helping your community!
References1) "5 Foods That Negatively Affect Your Child's Mood -." Child Development Institute, 24 July 2017, childdevelopmentinfo.com/psychology/adhd-add/five-foods-negatively-affect-childs-mood/#.WqGLuZM-eu4.
2) "Physical Education in American Schools is Getting Lapped." Slate Magazine, 12 Apr. 2016,www.slate.com/blogs/schooled/2016/04/12/most_states_are_shortchanging_kids_on_physical_education_study_finds.html.