Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin recently addressed the issue of suicides in high school and encouraged students to help prevent such tragedies by taking the time to listen and extend compassion to one another.
In a recent post on his official Facebook page, the Christian NBA star revealed the issue weighed heavily on his mind after reading the "The Silicon Valley Suicides," an article from The Atlantic focusing on "suicide clusters" at Palo Alto High School in California.
"Admitting we don't entirely know why teenagers kill themselves isn't an invitation to do nothing to prevent it from happening," reads the article in part. "It's just a call for humility, a short pause to acknowledge that a sense of absolute certainty about what children should do or be or how they should operate is part of what landed us here."
Growing up in California's Bay Area, Lin attended the same high school where the alarming number of suicides have been reported in recent years.
"When I was a freshman at Palo Alto High, a classmate who sat next to me committed suicide. I remember having difficulty registering what had happened. A year later, a friend committed suicide," the Asian-American athlete shared. "I saw up close the pain and devastation of their loved ones and my community. I realized then that there are so many burdens we don't see the people around us carrying. I told myself that I would try to be more sensitive and open to other people's struggles."
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide, and there is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. Additionally, 17.0% of students seriously considered attempting suicide during the previous 12 months (22.4% of females and 11.6% of males).
As a teenager, Lin experienced first hand the overwhelming pressure in school, particularly relating to academics.
"The pressure to succeed in high school is all too familiar to me. I distinctly remember being a freshman in high school, overwhelmed by the belief that my GPA over the next four years would make or break my life," he said, recalling the many sleepless nights and anxiety attacks he experienced due to such pressure.
Thanks to the support of his brother, pastor, and friends, Lin eventually realized that his identity and worth were in more than his grades.
"Growing up my parents always said, 'Do your best and trust God with the results.' When I learned to truly understand what that meant, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders," the 27-year-old athlete recalled.
Despite his tremendous achievements - such as graduating from Harvard and succeeding in the NBA - Lin said he continues to feel pressure from society to accomplish more.
"Separating myself from my results is not an easy lesson and I've had to relearn this in every stage of my life. The world will always need you to accomplish more, do more, succeed more," he said. "I still dream big and give my all in everything I do, but I know that success and failure are both fleeting."
In concluding his post, Lin acknowledged that it's still mystery on how to "completely solve these [suicide] issues", but encouraged students to take the time to "listen to each other, to reach out and have compassion on one another."
"I don't have any great insight and I don't know exactly what it's like to be a high school student today. I do know that I'm proud to be from Palo Alto, a resilient community that I see striving to learn how to better support and care for each other. I hope that my personal experience can remind someone else that they are worth so much more than their accomplishments," he concluded.
An outspoken Christian, Lin often addresses the emptiness of worldly success and the importance of finding one's identity in Christ.
Speaking to a massive audience in Beijing last year, the athlete explained that once you achieve such success, you simply want to replace it with another goal.
"Even if you achieve everything you want to achieve, at some point you're gonna want to have a family and kids. And you're gonna want those kids to have that same success, and they're going to go through that same cycle of chasing dream after dream after dream," he said.
This mounting unhappiness prompted the athlete to question the meaning of success: "For me, that's when I shifted my perspective from accomplishments to love," he explained. "We all need love. I think this past season, the one thing I took away was I really felt God's love for me...God has always shown his love for me throughout my whole life. I think if you look at my life, every bad situation, God always turns to a good situation."