Up to this point we’ve done a lot of talking about what it means to parent children effectively and set them up for healthy lives. We’ve looked at some of the traps the world lays for them, the obstacles that can trip them up along the way, and the mental health issues that can send them spinning off in dangerous directions. All of this has been good, solid information, but there’s an important sense in which it’s only preparatory to our real task. Now it’s time to get down to the heart of the matter.

Teen suicide has become a huge problem in our society. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that for each teen who actually dies by suicide as many as twenty-five teens contemplate taking their lives. Apparently, quite a few of our young people are giving a great deal of thought to the possibility of ending their own lives.