Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President

A teenager who survived the Florida shooting wrote a poem to Trump addressing the important issues. When will we listen to these teens who saw friends shot in front of their eyes? President Trump when will you answer the questions and requests of these amazing teenagers?

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and victims of trauma. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work visit his website

Information about Teens and Guns

Information about Teens and Guns

Given the numerous school shootings and the most recent shooting at the high school in Florida, I was researching facts about teenagers and guns. I read an article by Cody Fenwick regarding children and gun violence. His article was very alarming. Fenwick’s article connected guns to teenage suicide, and confirmed what I am hearing from teenagers and children in psychotherapy. Many children are afraid to go to school because they might be killed. Teenagers and first graders have the same fear. From my point of view it indicates we need more appropriate gun control laws. We must start to listen to our children. A point the statistics in Fenwick’s article support.

Many of us feel because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children and teenagers do not have to worry about gangs or gun violence. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. According to a new research study in the Journal of Pediatrics, guns continue to be the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, killing around 1,300 children and teenagers a year in the United States. In addition, almost 6,000 children and teenagers are injured per year. Many teenagers are permanently disabled from these injuries.

The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2002 and 2014. The study found that boys, especially older boys such as teenagers and minorities, were much more likely to be the victims of gun violence. The study did not say anything about where the boys lived. The facts are children who are male and teenagers, are at a higher risk for becoming a victim of gun violence. Therefore, teenagers in our area are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence.

The study does indicate there has been a decrease in accidental deaths such as boys cleaning a gun. However, the rate as a method for suicide has increased. I have mentioned before that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 year old boys. This study confirms that statistic and indicates the preferred method of suicide for boys and teenagers are guns. According to Katherine Fowler, one of the lead researchers at the CDC, “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children.” Understanding their nature [guns] and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

When we look at these numbers, can anyone argue against taking steps to protect our children? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy using a gun to kill himself? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy feeling that his life is so bad at the age of ten that death seems like a better option than living?

The study indicates that in recent years guns were responsible for a large number of adolescent, males who were murdered. The study documented that deaths in the category of murder for boys under the age of 18 years old decreased to 53 percent. This is a decrease yet the rate is still 53%. The other causes of gun-related deaths include:

• 38 percent — suicides

• 6 percent — unintentional deaths

• 3 percent — law enforcement/undetermined cause

The study found 82% of deaths by guns were boys. This means 82% of gun deaths were boys who were children or teenagers. Putting it another way, this means these boys were not even 18 years old yet at the time of their deaths. The study also found that white and American Indian children have the highest rate of suicide using a gun.

We also like to think that the United States in one of the most advanced nations in the world. However, the statistics show that the United States has the highest rate in the world for children under 14 years old committing suicide. Again, the United States has the highest rate of children under 14 years old using a gun to commit suicide. That number scares me and is appalling to me. However, as an adolescent and child psychotherapist, I do not doubt it. I have heard 6 year old boys seriously discussing suicide.

Furthermore, I hear teenagers routinely talking about needing to carry a knife or gun with them for protection. They tell me you never know when you will be jumped and you need to be able to protect yourself. In fact, a few years ago a teenager was shot on his front door step in Danville over a marijuana deal. When I mention to teens the risks they are taking, they tell me there is no guarantee they will live until 30 years old. They would rather die protecting themselves than doing nothing.

As a society, we need to look at these numbers and ask ourselves some questions. What are we going to do in order to improve gun safety? Most importantly, why are children as young as 6 years old thinking about suicide? Also what are we going to do so that children who are suicidal have access to mental health care? This is our problem because it does happen in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Dr. Rubino has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at

Listen to the Victims of School Shootings

Listen to the Victims of School Shootings

It is time that we start listening to children and teenagers. They live with the fear everyday of not knowing will they be shot at school today. Many people may feel I am exaggerating, but I am not. As a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers, I hear on a regular basis how students worry about a shooting occurring at their school. Some students anxiety is so severe that they are having panic attacks and cannot attend school on a regular basis.

The recent shooting at Parkside High School in Florida provides evidence for their fear. The news show 20/20 on ABC did a story on school shootings. They found that in the year 2017 more students had been killed in that single year than all the school shooting which have occurred from 2000 to 2016. Furthermore CNN found that for the first 23 days of 2018, there had been at least one school shooting a day on some days there were more than one school shooting. Therefore, our students fears are justified. Also the number of students killed in a school shooting continues to increase every year not decrease. So it appears we are doing nothing to address this issue. If we are, our attempts to resolve the problem are not working. Also the United States is the only nation in the world to have school shootings.

The President only offers prayers while he continues to focus on obtaining his funding for a wall. We need to protect our children more than we need a wall. He also wants to discuss mental health issues. However, the Executive Orders he has signed and his attacks on the Affordable Care Act have only served at decreasing the amount of mental health care available to people and have made it easier for people with mental health issues to purchase guns.

The United States Congress has not helped either. Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a bill making it impossible for someone on the no fly list which identifies people who may be terrorists was not passed by the United States Senate. Therefore, we may identify someone as a potential terrorist and not allow them to fly on a plane, but they can legally buy a gun. This makes no sense at all. Some people say we need to protect a person’s right to own a gun. No one has ever said that someone who hunts or wants a gun to protect their family does not have this right. However, they do not need automatic high power riffles that the military uses in war zones. I highly doubt a deer is going to shoot back.

Given the number of school shootings, the number of students and teachers who have been killed, the number of families that have been destroyed and the number of students and teachers who have survived these shooting and have to live with the tragedy for the rest of their lives, we need to start to listen to these victims. A mother whose 14 year old daughter was killed in the recent Florida shooting has told President Trump twice that he needs to impose laws that will limit access to automatic assault weapons. Many of the students from Parkside High School are calling for gun control laws. One person made the point saying, “you do not say I hear mental illness, I think I am going to die. But you do say, I hear gun shots, I think I am going to die.”

I have included a link to a rally that the Parkside High School students held. If they can hold a rally so soon after experiencing such a terrifying, traumatic event, we owe it to them to watch it. These high school students are calling on the President and United States Congress to do the right thing and finally impose sane gun laws that will protect our children. If the United States wants to be a world leader and we say we do what is in the best interest of our children, then the President and Congress must ignore the NRA and finally impose gun laws so people on the no fly list and automatic, assault weapons can no longer be purchased at a gun store, gun show or online. I have included a link to the rally these amazing teenagers in Florida held, please be respectful to these students and watch it,

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children, teenagers and trauma victims. He has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Helping Teenagers Deal with Death and Tragedy

Helping Teenagers Deal with Death and Tragedy

Unfortunately in our society school shooting have become a daily experience. No other country has school shooting like the United States. Today, we had another shooting at a high school in Florida. As a result, this means teenagers in the United States have to deal with death and grief much sooner than expected. We expect a grandparent to pass away, but we don’t expect a 15 year old or 4 year old child be killed at school. Most kids expect that they should be safe at school. However, this is no longer true and kids are being killed at school by other kids with guns. When this occurs no one knows what to say or do. Many patients have asked me about what to do in these situations. While doing research regarding grief for patients, I found this information from the grief center. I think it is very good information and very easy to understand. Therefore, I will present the information in three sections.

The 10 Best and 10 Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief

Sheryl Sandberg’s post on Facebook gave us much insight into how those in grief feel about the responses of others to loss. Many of us have said “The Best” and “The Worst.” We meant no harm, in fact the opposite. We were trying to comfort. A grieving person may say one of the worst ones about themselves and it’s OK. It may make sense for a member of the clergy to say, “He is in a better place” when someone comes to them for guidance. Where as an acquaintance saying it may not feel good.

You would also not want to say to someone, you are in the stages of grief. In our work, On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and I share that the stages were never meant to tuck messy emotions into neat packages. While some of these things to say have been helpful to some people, the way in which they are often said has the exact opposite effect than what was originally intended.

The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief

1. I am so sorry for your loss.

2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.

3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can.

4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.

5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…

6. I am always just a phone call away

7. Give a hug instead of saying something

8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you

9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything

10. Saying nothing, just be with the person

The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief

1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young

2. He is in a better place

3. She brought this on herself

4. There is a reason for everything

5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now

6. You can have another child still

7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him

8. I know how you feel

9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go

10. Be strong

Best & Worst Traits of people just trying to help

When in the position of wanting to help a friend or loved one in grief, often times our first desire is to try to “fix” the situation, when in all actuality our good intentions can lead to nothing but more grief. Knowing the right thing to say is only half of the responsibility of being a supportive emotional caregiver. We have comprised two lists which examine both the GOOD and the NOT SO GOOD traits of people just trying to help.

The Best Traits

Supportive, but not trying to fix it

About feelings

Non active, not telling anyone what to do

Admitting can’t make it better

Not asking for something or someone to change feelings

Recognize loss

Not time limited

The Worst Traits

They want to fix the loss

They are about our discomfort

They are directive in nature

They rationalize or try to explain loss/li>

They may be judgmental

May minimize the loss

Put a timeline on loss

The above information is meant to be used as a guideline. Everyone goes through the grieving process in their own way. It is very important to understand that point. It is also important to remember while the above is a guideline, the most important thing is your intent. So if you say a worse thing but you said it out of love the person will understand. The guideline will hopefully make you more comfortable to offer support to your grieving loved one or friend. Because someone who is grieving need people to talk to without people feeling awkward. Also everyone is around immediately after the death and through the funeral services. Most people then go back to their normal lives. However, those who were really close to the person are still grieving and trying to figure out how to proceed with life. So don’t forget the person who is grieving can use emotional support for the first year especially. Therefore, do not forget to call, send a card or stop by occasionally. Especially around the holidays and birthdays.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience treating adolescents, children and their families. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino visit his website or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Another School Shooting & More Students Killed

Another School Shooting & More Students Killed

I published this article about a week ago, but in light of the school shooting in Florida today, it makes sense to publish an update. While researching this issue, I discovered that since the beginning of 2018, there has been 23 school shooting as of January 24, 2018 (CNN). This means that in addition to the shooting at the school in Kentucky, in January, there has been more than one school shooting a day this year. This is terrifying and today we have another tragic school shooting in Florida and more students killed.

Today we had another senseless shooting and more deaths at a school campus, what are we going to do? What answers do we give to the parents or families of the victims that will ease their pain? What would you do if it was your child? Unfortunately, the current President is ignoring the facts that teenagers need access to mental health resources and we need gun control. An interesting point, no guns were allowed anywhere near the Republican Convention even though caring guns were legal in the state. It appears the government is selective how gun laws are imposed. The main point again, is today there was another school shooting and more deaths, when do we act and stop these killings? Also it is important to note that the ABC show 20/20 did a story about school shootings. In their story they noted the increase in school shootings is significant. The number of people killed in school shootings was more in 2017 than all of the 17 years of previous school shootings. So we have a serious problem.

In regards to the mental health issue, many people feel uncomfortable discussing mental health and being around people who are mentally ill and therefore the mentally ill are usually ignored. However, the number of school shootings or people shooting others in movie theaters or other public places has increased significantly. In fact, this number is increasing every year, it is not decreasing, as I noted above. Given this fact, when will we as a society act and when will we demand that our government act? Most of these killings could have been stopped if we listened to family members asking for help because they were afraid a family member might hurt others. Also a majority of these teenager shooters have provided evidence in advance that they were having problems and needed help.

The killings that occurred in the Santa Barbara shooting show a family crying out for help for their son and the fact that he needed help emotionally were basically ignored. The result was another senseless killing. One of the victim’s fathers made a statement “no more.” It would be nice if this were the case, but if we do not change our attitudes regarding mental health and the laws, there will be more killings. The parents called for a welfare check on their son for help. The police went to his front door and asked if he was alright, he said yes so by law they left. The boy wrote in his journal, “if they only had stepped into my apartment it would have been over.” The parents told the police he was having mental problems but because he said “I am alright”, the police did nothing and innocent people died.

I have this happen very often where parents are saying their teens need help and the teen tells me they feel suicidal. Therefore, I call the police to have the teen hospitalized. This is the legal procedure. The officers arrive and ask the teen if they feel suicidal, if the teen says no the police may leave and ignore my professional assessment that the teen is a danger to self or others and ignore what the family is saying about the teenager being a danger. They do so because this is how the law is written.

No one wants to take rights away from any one, but a person who is feeling like killing themselves or others is not the person to ask “are you alright?” They know if they say yes, the police will stop their plans so of course they say no. Also police officers have not had the training that mental health professionals have had and the officers are put in an awkward position.

As I stated, the number of school shootings is up significantly and shows no signs of declining. Parents come into my office all the time concerned about their teenagers and they have a right to be. However, the teen refuses to come to therapy and the teen is too big for the parents to force them to come in for therapy. If they never come in I never hear anything that permits me to have the teen hospitalized. So we are stuck in a position were we have to sit and wait until the teen does something such as self-mutilating (Cutting), suicide or kill someone else. As a practitioner this is a terrible position to be in and for the parents it is a nightmare.

I am not sure what the right answer is for this situation. I do know that what we are doing is not working. We cannot ignore mental illness and we cannot keep pretending that teenagers in our society do deal with mental illness. Parents, mental health providers and our State Senators and Representatives need to sit down together and discuss this public health problem and we need to do it quickly. If we don’t, it is only a matter of time before their are more killings. The life you save may be your own or someone in your family.

Also we need to address gun control too. We need to make it more difficult to buy guns at a gun shop, show or via the internet. The NRA always states we can’t do anything because people have a legal right to own a gun. This is true, but they don’t need automatic weapons. The lack of gun control laws is another part of the problem of school shootings and as such events as the Las Vegas shooting. We really need to look at this problem and the number of lives lost and decide, what will we do?

Also the President demanded tax reform because the United States had the “highest corporate tax rate in the world.” We are also the only country in the world with school shootings. So when does the President demand that we address this issue? Everyone needs to write him, their Senators and Congressperson and demand that school shootings be addressed not ignored.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist in Pleasant Hill who specializes in treating teenagers. Dr. Rubino has over 20 years experience treating teenagers. He has appeared on national and local television and radio shows regarding this topic. To find out more about Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website

Juul a New Form of Vaporizing

Juul a New Form of Vaporizing

Vaporizing and E cigarettes have been popular with teenagers for a while. Teenagers have used them as a way to use nicotine and marijuana. Parents and schools have started to become aware of vaporizing Pens. However, teenagers have found away to vaporize without it being obvious. Teenagers are now using an object called “Jewel.” This is a very slim, sleek object which looks more like an object for a computer. In fact, it resembles a flash drive which teenagers use on a regular basis.

The reason this is important for parents to be aware of is because vaporizing is very common with a majority of teenagers. They do not feel that it imposes any health risks and many teens say it helps them relax. Many teenagers have been using vaporizing pens since they were 13 years old. Many people assume only teenagers who typically being using drugs are vaporizing. However, this assumption is wrong. Students who are considered very good students and teenagers are vaporizing. Again, they feel the health risk is less and it helps them deal with the pressure of everyday life. Teenagers today face a great deal of pressure to do it all. To play a sport, be involved with after school activities, take AP classes and maintain at least a 4.0 average so they can be accepted to the best colleges. Many teenagers are trying to maintain a 4.5 grade point average. So teenagers today in high school are under a great deal of pressure.

Again many parents may feel this trend doesn’t apply to their teenager. In order to get the point across that this applies to a majority of teenagers, even those with a 4.5 grade point average, I have included a link to a video This video contains all types of teenagers who explain how common vaporizing is for teenagers these days. Many say they started vaporizing as young as 13 years old. I know it is very common because as a psychotherapist who treats teenagers, I have had many teens bring their vaporizing pens into their psychotherapy sessions and try to use them.

However, the juul which looks like a flash drive is an easier way for teens to vaporize. While legally you need to be 18 to purchase one, teenagers are able to buy these on line with no problems. Also they provide 4 to 5 times the amount of nicotine or marijuana that vaporizing pens provide. Therefore, the juul puts the teenager’s health at a greater risk and they are more addictive. These devices have been out for about two years. In that time, some schools have become aware of the trend that teenagers are using juul instead of vaporizing. Because of this fact, another device referred to as a phix is now becoming popular. It also looks like something a teenager needs for a computer. The point is that parents have to be aware all the time regarding issues related to drugs. The illegal drugs and tobacco companies are always developing new ways for teenagers to use. Also age requirements are not a problem since teens can purchase on line.

So parents are more aware about the juul situation and what they look like, I have included a link to a news report regarding juul use from a schools point of view and a seller of the devices who has concerns about teenagers. Parents please watch this video

Parents may be wondering what do I do? What you need to do is talk to your teenager about these devices explain the risks and ask if they are using them. Also listen to what your teens are talking about with their friends and if you hear a term you are not familiar with then research it. Also continue to talk with your teenager about things going on in their lives and decisions they are facing. Many teens are using these devices to decrease the stress the feel to be perfect. Let your teenager know you don’t want them to be perfect. Let them know you are more concerned about them being happy. So if they can’t keep at 4.5 grade point average, it’s okay. This can help teens a great deal. Many of the teens I work with put the pressure to be perfect on themselves. They assume their parents expect them to be super teenagers. They are shocked and relieved to find out their parents don’t have these expectations. The key is communication. Talk to your teen let them know your expectations and that you will except them no matter what.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

I have parents ask me very often about should their teenager be allowed to drive? I also have parents worry about cellphones and texting. I think this video will help parents address some of these issues with their teenagers.

A video about texting and driving. Parents watch this video with your teenagers and discuss your driving habits. Also make a commitment not to text and drive

Dr. Rubino specializes in treating teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website