Every Monday, I’ll post about discovering genuine hope and authentic answers for living a healthy life.

I’m not sure when it started, but it’s continued.

At some point in almost every program with middle school and high school students, I have them repeat it after me. “Live long. Die old.”

“Live long. Die old.”

“Live long. Die old.”

“Live long. Die old.”

“Live long. Die old.”

“Live long. Die old.”

Suicide is way too common – it’s the third leading cause of death for 11-19 year-olds. There are no words strong enough to express my grief every time I think about this.

Today’s young people are overwhelmed by the amount of information available to them. Be a solid source of truth for them and teach them how to choose from the rest what they should and should not believe, remember, and apply.

They’re overwhelmed by decisions they think they have to make. Make some for them and teach them how to make the rest. Gently and consistently teach them the difference between wrong, almost right, and right.

They’re overwhelmed trying to make choices based on their happiness. Model how you make appropriate choices and teach them there’s more to life than happiness. Much more. More. Even more.

Model how to handle disappointment. The lack of happiness. Sadness. Jealousy. Fear. Confusion. Other emotions you see them struggling with. Teach them. Get them help if it’s appropriate.

Many of today’s children and teens may act like they don’t care what their parents, other relatives, and teachers think and believe. That’s not true, though. The phone in their hand, pods in their ears, and eyes glued to a screen are often a cover.

They may not know how to start the conversation. They may appear to be resistant at first. They may actually be resistant at first, especially if you haven’t talked in awhile or if past conversations have been negative and argumentative.

Start the conversation. Keep talking. Apologize for past arguments and judgments, if appropriate. Ask questions. Better questions. Answer theirs. Don’t give up.

Listen to learn, not to judge.

Care before you share.

Talk to inspire. To help. To encourage. Although teaching is very important, don’t always have teaching or convincing them you’re right as your goal.

Do it now. And later. And again.

Life is fragile. Living shouldn’t be.