This weekend is a big weekend.  It’s Memorial Day weekend, it’s also the beginning of graduations celebrations and it’s the beginning of summer too.  For many teenagers this means parties, hanging out with friends and staying out late.  It’s a popular weekend to celebrate by drinking, smoking and some teenagers head for the beaches or swimming pools depending on the area they live in.  Most people assume these are every day activities and everyone will have a good time.

However, this is not reality. Every year 5,000 teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 400,000 are injured (CDC statistics). These injures may range from cuts and bruises to someone being paralyzed by breaking their back.  Concussions are very common and can have life long effects on someone.  For example, Concussions can lead to Post Concussion Syndrome.  As we learn more about concussions, we are learning that concussions can cause a number of issues for a person. 

Also regarding swimming, there are 3,500 accidental drowning every year. And out of these drownings 1 out of 5 are teenagers (CDC statistics).  This is the number who die. It doesn’t include brain injuries due to lack of oxygen to the brain or breaking a neck by diving. A broken neck can result in death, paralysis or being in a Halo Brace for 6 months. Again this is an activity we assume is safe and nothing would happen swimming in a friend’s pool.  These injuries can occur in car accidents too.

With it being the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of graduations and graduation parties, there are going to be a lot of parties and drinking. There are also going to be a lot of drunk driving accidents, drownings and accidental overdosing. You have no way to know if your teenager or your family might be one of the unlucky families this weekend. It could be your teen who is killed or it could be you.

You never know what is going to happen in life.  Especially given everything that is happening all over the world.  And if you look at the above statistics, you never know when or if something is going to happen.

Since you never know what may happen, take the opportunity to talk with your teenagers.  When you talk to your teenagers talk to them using a casual tone.  If it sounds like a lecture, your teenagers are probably going to ignore you.  However, if you just approach them to have a calm conversation they are more likely to listen.  Besides using a calm tone, remember to listen to what your teenagers have to say.  Therefore, you want to have an open, two way conversation with your teenagers.

As I mentioned above, you never know what to expect when you are dealing with teenagers today.  A mother experienced this fact when her son committed suicide.  Suicide is now the second  leading cause of death for teenagers (CDC).  After that she wrote the following poem to her son. She also encouraged all parents of teenagers to remember to say “I love you,” to your teenager.  You may not get another chance.

I Love You

How could you?

They asked you,

How could you?

But you could not answer

As you were not here.

Why would you?

They asked you,

Why would you?

But their questions fell onto

The world’s deafest ears.

I loved you!

They told you,

I loved you.

But they told you too late,

Through their tears.

I’ll miss you,

They told you,

I’ll miss you.

And in death now

They hold you more dear.

The point is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel that their parents don’t care, take the opportunity while you have it to express your feelings. Talk with them about your concerns and listen to them about how they are feeling and what is going on in their lives.  Don’t spend the rest of your life regretting I never told him I loved him or wondering if that would have made the difference.

Also the ironic part to this weekend is it really a time to honor the men and women who have served in the military. To remember all those soldiers who have been killed, injured for life or coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury, so we can benefit from a democracy that allows us the freedom to live our lives how we want to live life.  So we can go to church if we want and express our opinions without having to fear for our lives.

However, over time we have forgotten the meaning of today.  Therefore, we do not value what we have and take chances with our lives we do not need to take.  We also forget the veterans who are paralyzed or trying to cope with PTSD and reliving the war they were in daily.  This also has a major impact on veteran’s families too.  Another fact we forget.

May be if we take a few minutes to remember the true meaning of this weekend, we will value life more and be less likely to take senseless chances such as driving drunk.  We may also remember the veterans who are still struggling with their injuries today and ensure they get the help they need and deserve.  Many do not and as a result the suicide rate for veterans is very high compared to the general population.  There are few treatment option for them too. A very sad fact when they provided us with the freedom we enjoy daily.  

Dr. Rubino is a psychotherapist is Pleasant Hill who specializes in treating children, teenagers, trauma victims including first responders.  He has over 25 years of working with teens. To find out more about his work, his private practice or to contact him visit his website at or his Facebook page