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Keywords:

  • Personal decisions;
  • proactive decisions;
  • teenager deaths;
  • young adult deaths

This article uses decision analysis concepts and techniques to address an extremely important problem to any family with children, namely, how to avoid the tragic death of a child during the high-risk ages of 15–24. Descriptively, our analysis indicates that of the 35,000 annual deaths among this age group in the United States, approximately 20,000 could be avoided if individuals chose readily available alternatives for decisions relating to these deaths. Prescriptively, we develop a decision framework for parents and a child to both identify and proactively pursue decisions that can lower that child's exposure to life-threatening risks and positively alter decisions when facing such risks. Applying this framework for parents and the youth themselves, we illustrate the logic and process of generating proactive alternatives with numerous examples that each could pursue to lower these life-threatening risks and possibly avoid a tragic premature death, and discuss some public policy implications of our findings.