We – You and I – Are Unique

So freaking unique!



How’s American Exceptionalism working out for us? I’m glad you asked.


America is unique among the world’s wealthiest nations in each of the following:


We are the only such nation without universal health care. That might have something to do with our declining longevity rankings. We’re now sitting 51st in the world, just below those bastions of health and wealth: Lebanon, Croatia, Cuba and Barbados.

A chart comparing life expectancy in the US with the rest of the G-7 countries.


And medical costs are still the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings in America mostly because we still have the most expensive health care in the world.


We are the only wealthy nation where the number of guns exceeds the actual population (400 million+ and rising each day) and we – alone in the world – place no real restrictions on owning and equipping assault weapons and ammunition, including large capacity clips, which were designed for war, not hunting.


Unless, of course, you’re hunting other humans.


Coincidentally (surely), we are the only nation with weekly mass shootings. As of yesterday’s slaughter in Louisville, Kentucky, we’ve had 15 mass shootings in the first 10 days of April.


America is also the only nation that suffers mass casualty events at schools – yes, even elementary schools – on an almost weekly basis.


As of yesterday, there have been 146 mass shootings in America, killing over 11,521 people in 2023, but it’s early as I write this so that number may have already increased.


As Shannon Watts said recently, “There are 400 million guns in this country. If guns made us safer, we’d be the safest nation in the world.” What a crazy thing to think!


America leads the world in the number of children aged 6-17 years “…ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety and depression. Those numbers have increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011-2012.


Since that was a full decade ago, it’s probably safe to assume the numbers now are worse. 


Gun violence is now the number 1 cause of death for children in America.
Surely there can’t be a connection between the number of guns available and gun deaths, can there? Nahhhhh…
For adolescents, depression, substance use and suicide are important concerns because they are increasing!
Among adolescents aged 12-17 in 2018-2019:
    • 15.1% had a major depressive episode.
    • 36.7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
    • 4.1% had a substance use disorder.
    • 1.6% had an alcohol use disorder.
    • 3.2% had an illicit drug use disorder.
    • 18.8% seriously considered attempting suicide.
    • 15.7% made a suicide plan.
    • 8.9% attempted suicide.
    • 2.5% made a suicide attempt requiring medical treatment.


Drug overdose deaths among high school-aged US teens have more than doubled since 2019, driven by a rise in the deadly opioid fentanyl.


Almost every measure of mental health is getting worse, for every teenage demographic, and it’s happening all across the country. Since 2009, sadness and hopelessness have increased for every race; for straight teens and gay teens; for teens who say they’ve never had sex and for those who say they’ve had sex with males and/or females; for students in each year of high school; and for teens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” (Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Why American Teens Are So Sad. Subscription may be required, but I hope not ’cause it’s a really good article)


And there is ample evidence that Social Media makes these mental health issues worse, especially for girls.


It predates the pandemic. It crosses the political spectrum.


Doesn’t it seem as if we, as a collective nation, should be more focused on finding a way to fix these issues killing our children?


You may say “This isn’t my job. Parents should be dealing with this.” And maybe that’s true.


But in a crisis this huge, don’t we all play a part?


Can’t we all help, somehow, some way?


We see it after tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, everyone pitching in to help search the rubble, rescue the survivors, and help those who’ve lost everything get back on their feet.


Can’t we muster the same community response to this pandemic of hopelessness and death? After all, these issues are all actually within our control.


How about you and your station? Shouldn’t all of us in the media, but especially Radio, because it’s our medium and because Radio, above all others, is so personal and connective. be trying to help rather than ignore or inflame?


Is there something your station can do to talk about this with your younger listeners, tools and expertise you can give their parents?


Surely this is more important than screaming at each other over politics and wokeness and book bans.


Surely it’s more important than any other topic you’ll find to joke about today.


If not, aren’t we, as an industry, part of the problem too?