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Survey: More Alaska teens are having suicidal thoughts

November 10, 2017

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A higher number of high school students across Alaska have reported having suicidal thoughts this year, according to a statewide survey.

The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey released this week states that 23 percent of students “seriously considered attempting suicide” during the past 12 months, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported . That’s an increase from 17 percent in 2011.

The survey also found that the percentage of students who had “made a plan to attempt suicide” during the past 12 months increased from 14 percent to 21 percent and the percentage of students who “felt sad or hopeless” on a near daily basis increased from 27 percent to 36 percent.

There was no significant change reported in numbers of students who attempted suicide.

In Kodiak, district officials opted to give students an additional local survey, with results scheduled to be released spring 2018.

Kodiak High School students each year take a one-hour class on suicide prevention. The class trains students to recognize warning signs in their peers and teaches them what to do next.

“We have a slogan at school, which is: If you see something, say something,” said Sheila Beardsley, one of the four counselors at the high school.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an anonymous review conducted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services every other year. This year, 1,343 teenagers were asked 114 questions that covered a range of topics including drug abuse, diet, sexual behavior and mental health.

Beyond the suicidal thoughts figures, the survey also found that, on average, fewer students are drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco products, and that more students are subjected to electronic bullying.

Tazlina Mannix, the survey’s coordinator for the state, said they’ve been administering the survey since 1995.

“We see a lot of value in them because it’s a broader idea of what’s happening in the state” Mannix said. “Districts find the statewide result useful, because if a district conducts a local survey they can compare it with the statewide results to see how they’re doing comparatively.”


Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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