Dear Abby: I am a teen who self-injures. I cut myself and hurt myself constantly, and I also tried to kill myself. I'm depressed all the time and so stressed it makes me sick. I hear a voice that tells me things, and it says if I tell anyone about it, it will kill me. Please help me. —Desperate in Sydney, Australia
Dear Desperate: The voice you're hearing is a symptom of your illness. If you keep secret the fact that you're hearing a voice, the voice will become stronger. The best advice I can give you, and this is from the heart, is to tell your parents or another trusted adult what you are experiencing. Your problems can be overcome, but not without professional intervention. You need medical and psychiatric help right away. Please don't wait.
Dear Abby: I just finished reading the letter from "Jamie's Family," about the 11-year-old girl who was killed in an auto accident while reclining in the front seat of the car. I was stunned when I read their letter.
I would like to let that family know that she did not die in vain. Although I don't do it frequently, I have allowed my 11-year-old son to do the same thing. You can be certain I'll never do it again.
A heartfelt thank-you to Jamie's family for taking the time to send a letter that I'm sure was difficult to write. They may have saved the life of at least one other 11-year-old today — mine. —Grateful Mom in California
Dear Grateful: Several readers have reminded me that new-car operating manuals warn against reclining in the seat while a vehicle is in motion. Although nothing can lessen their grief, I am sure that Jamie's family will find some degree of comfort in knowing they have averted a possible tragedy. Thank you for speaking up.
Dear Abby: My parents are in their 80s, in moderately good health and live a modest lifestyle. They are active and youthful in many ways. We children and grandchildren love them dearly and look forward to spending time with them.
Our relationship is sustained by mutual enjoyment instead of guilt. They have many old friends and constantly make new ones. What is it about my folks that draws people to them? What makes them so popular with people of all ages? Here's the answer:
They listen more than they talk.
They rarely complain about anything.
They show a genuine interest in others by asking meaningful questions without being judgmental.
They live in the present, and although they appreciate the "good ol' days," they don't dwell on them.
They enjoy young people and recognize that each generation has both good and bad.
They are fun and interesting to talk to because they are learning new things and want to share them with us.
And finally, they can laugh at themselves. Growing old can be a real grind, but through it all, they find a little humor.
Relationships are a two-way street and a lifelong endeavor. I hope that when I'm as old as my parents I will be like them. —Lucky Daughter in Minnesota
Dear Daughter: Your parents sound like wonderful people. However, the traits that make them sought after apply not only to seniors, but to people of all ages. So if you want to be the kind of person your parents are when you reach the age of 80, start practicing now.
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