BISHOP of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that young people are being “pushed to an emotional brink” by the tragedies and pressures of life and social media.
The Bishop made his remarks in an open letter following a series of conversations with young people in recent weeks.
He said that his biggest Easter wish this year was for young people to have the courage to say ‘no’ to any negative influence in their lives, from social media bullying to any form of disrespect.
He advised young people not to just walk away from negative influences in their lives by to “sprint.”
In his letter, Bishop Leahy said that “a storm has descended on young people. Covid, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, concerns about the war on Ukraine, the ongoing destructiveness of social media and the accommodation crisis has brought many young people to an emotional brink.”
Bishop Leahy said that despite a sense that Covid has passed, there are still a lot of things in our world that cause social anxiety, including vulnerability of older relations.
The violent death of Ashling Murphy, he said, has engendered a fear in young women; for young men there’s the challenge of watching out for and calling out disrespectful behaviour.
“And there’s the courage to say no to bullying of any kind, including online bullying. If social media is bringing negativity to your life, leave it behind you. If people are true friends, they will have your phone number.”
The Bishop said that young adults also acknowledge the pervasiveness of illegal drugs and the pernicious challenge of drink-spiking, an action that seems to be quite prevalent.
“More recently, young people’s social anxiety has increased further as they face pressures to do with the cost of living and accommodation difficulties. Then there’s the desperate spectre of the war in Ukraine with refugees arriving in great numbers in Ireland has cast a gloomy shadow over us all.
The Bishop urged young people to open up to issues, not least if they are feeling anxious.
“Peace and calm can come in troubled waters if you put your faith in those closest to you and in God,” he added.