Staff File Photo By Erin O. Smith / More than 1,000 backpack were scattered across the lawn representing suicide victims during a 2018 demonstration at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Tennessee state Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, recently suggested in an opinion piece in the national conservative website The Patriot Post that the political left is at least somewhat to blame for rising rates of youth suicide and mental health problems among younger working Americans.

Suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in figures released recently, increased 56% from 2007 to 2017 among 10- to 24-year-olds.

The lawmaker, trained as a nurse, clearly understands that the circumstances surrounding each suicide are different, but she was asked by the website to comment on a recent Wall Street Journal analysis of an increase in youth suicide rates where factors such as a rise in depression, drug use, stress and access to firearms, along with the influence of social media, are cited as "areas of interest and study."

Smith's opinion never mentions Democrats or the left, but she does cite educational "activists who are invested in more than educational excellence and accomplishment and are now turning to the playbook seen in failing cultures of sameness for the common good" — in other words, socialism — "and a posture of dependency rather than self-reliance."

She additionally told the Times Free Press a certain lifestyle, in general, is being promulgated. "It's anti-life, it's anti-inspiration for the future, anti-hope for the future."

We would stipulate that is the lifestyle the left is offering with messages such as the world coming to an end in a few short years unless it adopts certain climate-change solutions, with campaign promises that offer up the government as guarantors of life and limb, and even with the suggestion of a universal wage for those who don't want to work.

"[W]e're teaching our kids," Smith writes, "to be wards of the State."

Unfortunately, if children do not have strong parenting that gives them the tools to reason and think for themselves, to deal with stress, to temper their media usage and to communicate in person, they do become susceptible to indoctrination, to crowd thinking and to bullying. They become perfect candidates to be wards of an all-powerful central government.

But we think there's an additional factor about suicide Smith didn't discuss, not because she doesn't know about it — she does — but because it wasn't part of the topic she was assigned. That is faith.

Many young people today indicate to friends or say in suicide notes they don't have anything holding them up. For some, that may mean parents or friends, but for others it simply may mean they don't feel the worthiness of their existence in the world.

That is something faith in an omniscient, all-creating, all-knowing, all-loving higher power offers. And for many of those persons, they extend and grow their knowledge of that higher power through regular attendance and study at a house of worship.

That backbone helps give their life meaning, and the understanding of a life lived with that knowledge helps shape their existence.

Unquestionably, though, faith in such a higher power and regular attendance at such a faith-sustaining house of worship have been on decline for the past 50 years.

Like Smith's take on suicide, the decline in faith is not a trend that can be blamed on the left, but the left is involved. After all, it thrives when people feel there is nothing to sustain them, when they abdicate all personal responsibility and when they feel they have nowhere to turn but an all-powerful central government.

That's why faith — and especially Christian faith in the United States — has become such an enemy of the left. Persons of faith are mocked for, among other things, their support of traditional marriage, their pro-life stance and their belief in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

If the left can convince people to forget their faith, to drop their reliance on a higher power, it is closer to its goal of bringing them under its influence.

We reiterate that a rise in suicide among young people, just as the drop in an adherence to a faith tradition, cannot be explained with one pat answer. However, when they don't have the tools to cope with the stress in their lives, when they allow everyday problems to become life stumbling blocks, when they feel they have no one or no faith to turn to, life can look mind-numbingly bleak.

The best way, we believe, to help prevent that bleakness is for parents, teachers, friends, mentors, workplaces and caring organizations to offer those tools in the first place.