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As a 22-year air force veteran, I'm saddened by the news that 78 airman have chosen to take their own lives this year. This is too many! I've known too many officers, enlisted, men, women, retired military! It affects them all.

We can't save those 78, but we can help others, and I feel it has to start with setting a good foundation when they are children. Parents first, and the school system and community closely behind. If we can teach kids now to have a positive mindset, that instant gratification isn't necessary, and to limit their social media influence and comparison with others, they can be on a better path. Let them know that we as parents or teachers aren't perfect, no one is perfect, and reaching out when they need help is OK.

Having been a teenager with depression and battling obesity and a food disorder, I was very close to giving up. I'm glad I didn't. We as a nation and as a community need to fund more avenues for getting help, training parents and teachers to help our next generation so they don't continue to turn to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, violence or suicide as an answer. Let's set the example, too, by stepping up to set the example. I want my children to have a longer lifespan expectancy than I do, not less. Start today — make it count.

Bonnie Schwartzkopf

Billings

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