Hot Topics Youth Electives: Dating, College Prep, and A Reason to Live David C. Cook PublishingCo, 1990A Reason to Live, 5 studies written by Marion Duckworth, author of “Why Teens are killing themselves and what you can do about it“.
Study 1: Exposes the danger of using permanent solutions for temporary problems. Young people are encouraged to learn from the way David and Job handled depression and terrible circumstances.
Study 2: Explores God’s value system in which each human life is sacred. Young people are encouraged to align their self-worth with God’s view.
Study 3: explores positive ways to find meaning in living. Young people discuss frustrating experiences, discover that God is there to help, and see God-Given abilities that help to make life rewarding.
Study 4: Helps young people find ways out of “hopeless traps”. Paul and Silas in jail, and the Israelites at the Red Sea are used as examples. Young people are encouraged to identify people who can pull them through hard times.
Study 5: Equips young people to stand by peers considering suicide. Warning signals, prevention and intervention strategies are explored.
Note recent cautions about over-focus on suicide with young people. I’d use one of these studies at a time, rather than in a series.
When Kids are Touched By Crisis
By Les Christie and Randy Petersen, David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1991
This book has 15 complete sessions for comforting and challenging your youth group when crisis comes. Situations covered include death, suicide, accident, natural disaster, racial incident, church split, scandal involving a church leader, pregnant teen, divorce, arrest of a friend, terminal illness, terrorism/murder, economic depression, crime and world hunger.
The session on youth suicide is designed to develop a compassionate response, while working on positive life-affirmation. Jeremiah 33:1-3, Psalm 103 and Isaiah 40:25-31 help young people see that God recognises the pain of people considering suicide and wants to help them live.
Case studies are used to help young people design their own escape strategies for situations in which they might feel trapped.
Life Recovery Guides
These guides are based on 4 convictions: We are in need of recovery, recovery is a commitment to change, recovery is possible, and the Bible can be a significant resource for recovery.
Studies in the series include recovery from family dysfunctions, distorted images of God, abuse, loss, addictions, and depression.
The studies are designed for young adults and older, but I’ve used them as a source when planning programmes for teenagers.
Videos To use
Edge TV 10: Suicide
This punchy video uses drama and contemporary music to spark off discussion in your youth group. Six stand-alone sections include:
- Suicide (16 minutes)
- Making a Difference: Teen Mania (6)
- Artist Profile: Margaret Becker (12) � Nathan: The Rest of the Story (11)
- Get Real (7)
- “Keep My Mind”- Margaret Becker (4)
Romeo and Juliet
The final scene (1:41-1:53) features the senseless suicides of two young people. Reel to Real*, Vol. 1, no.2, recommends preparing young people to watch this scene by pointing out the symbols of Christianity ignored by Romeo as he walks towards Juliet. “Each time Romeo walks past a cross, in effect, he ignores a symbol of Christ’s great sacrifice and love for us ∆ a love that is not selfish, foolish, or rash”.
Reel to Real Making the Most of the Movies, Vol. 1
paper, 32 pp., 1997 $8.95
This guide will help adults and youth create innovative learning opportunities using videos of current and classic movies which both interest youth and offer insights into life and faith. It can be used to supplement other youth curricula or to give to a substitute youth worker for an easy, entertaining session. The seven sessions include Twister, Fly Away Home, Phenomenon, Gandhi, Forrest Gump, Dances with Wolves, Les Miserables; Independence Day, Powder, Moses, The Star Wars Triology, Romeo and Juliet, ’50s Sci-Fi Extravaganza, Clueless, Emma, “Growing Up in the Movies,” The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Crucible, Joseph, Before and After, Homeless Retreat; Michael, The Preacher’s Wife, Chariots of Fire, 101 Dalmations, and more.
Dead Poets Society Directed Peter Weir, 1989John Keating (Robin Williams) is the teacher at a conservative prep school. One of the pupils, Neil, frustrated by his father banning him from involvement in drama, completes suicide. You could use the scenes immediately before the death to begin a discussion on alternatives to suicide.
Everybody Hurts R.E.M. on their album Automatic for the People, and on their video Parallel. The video features a traffic jam on a bridge, with the secret hurts of the occupants of the car. The climax of the video clip comes when everyone gets out of their vehicle and walks. “