People have no reason to live if they are deprived of their history and their heritage
"The researchers studied indigenous communities in large parts of Western Canada.
What hit them almost immediately was the astonishing suicide rate among teenagers - 500 to 800 times the national average - 'which infected many of these communities'.
But not all of them.
Some indigenous communities reported zero suicide rates.
When these communities were divided into larger groups according to their membership of one of the 29 tribal councils in the province, the rates varied.... from a low of zero (applies to 6 tribal councils) to a high of 633 suicides per 100.000.
What could make the difference between places where young people had nothing to live and those where young people had nothing to die?
The researchers started talking to the children.
They collected stories.
They asked young people to talk about their lives, their goals and their future.
What they found was that young people from the suicide communities had no stories to tell.
They were unable to speak about their lives in a coherent, organized manner.
They had no clear sense of their past, their childhood and the generations that preceded them.
And their attempts to sketch possible futures were empty of form and meaning.
Unlike the other children, they could not see their lives as narratives, not as stories.
Their attempts to answer questions about their biography were interrupted by long pauses and unfinished sentences.
They had nothing but the present, nothing to look forward to.
So many of them took their own lives.
Chandler's team soon discovered profound social causes for the differences between these communities.
Where the young people had stories to tell, continuity was already built into their self-esteem through the structure of their society.
Tribal councils remained active and effective bodies of governing.
The elders were respected, and they took responsibility to teach the children who they were and where they came from.
The language and Customs of the tribe had been conscientiously preserved over the Decades.
And so the young people saw themselves as part of a larger narrative in which the stories of their lives fit and made sense.
In contrast, the suicide communities had lost their Traditions and Rituals:
The kids ate at McDonald's and watched a lot of TV.
Their life consisted of islands in nowhere.
Their life just didn't make any sense.
There was only the present, only the strange terrain of today".
- Marc David Lewis, The Biology of Desire: Why addiction is not a disease
Marc Lewis, PhD, is a neuroscientist and professor of developmental psychology.
Today he teaches at Radboud University in the Netherlands, previously at the University of Toronto for over 20 years.
He has written or co-authored more than fifty journal articles in neuroscience and developmental psychology.
He currently speaks and blogs on addiction science topics, and his critically acclaimed book 'Memoirs of a Addicted Brain:'A neuroscientist investigates his former life in drugs' is the first to mix memory and science in addiction studies.