Youths drinking less but more thinking about suicide
SNOHOMISH COUNTY - Snohomish County youths are drinking less and cigarette smoking levels are at all-time lows, but more young people are having suicidal thoughts.
The state Healthy Youth Survey issued by the state Department of Health gives a snapshot of students’ behaviors. It surveys students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 every two years.
Among county high school seniors, one-third reported drinking alcohol, and one in five reported recently binge drinking. One-fourth of teens reported using marijuana and about one in seven (15 percent) reported smoking cigarettes. Nineteen percent of high school seniors reported trying hookah. Hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco through a water pipe.
Cigarette smoking among high school seniors is at its lowest point since 2002, the Snohomish Health District reported.
More youths reported considering suicide. Among seniors, 16 percent seriously contemplated suicide and 13 percent had planned the act out. One in 10 sixth graders reported considering suicide.
Suicide is a rising trend that is now the second-leading cause of death among young people. Six years ago, 11 percent of Snohomish County high school seniors reported contemplating suicide.
More youths reported they would seek help. Groups such as the National Suicide Lifeline are addressing the issue. Volunteers of America Western Washington recently set up an online crisis chat line from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for people facing depression.
The crisis chat line is at www.carecrisischat.org, or people can call a 24-hour hot line at 1-800-584-3578.
Younger people are more receptive to chatting online than talking over the phone, crisis line director Pat Morris said.
The survey also asks about relationships. Among seniors, about 45 percent reported having sex, with most losing their virginity between ages 15 and 17. Six percent reported receiving abusive injuries from a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The report also shows Snohomish County is becoming more diverse, as 83 percent reported English was the primary language spoken at home. Six years ago almost 90 percent of Snohomish County youths reported English was the primary language at home.
The report also found almost one in five high school seniors are overweight and at least one in four teens do not eat breakfast, but most teens are eating fruits and vegetables.
Most youths are still not getting enough exercise to meet health district standards. Between 20 and 27 percent of youths reported getting an hour of exercise each day.
Snohomish County’s averages for most unhealthy behaviors are lower than statewide averages.
The Snohomish Health District posted local results on its website at www.snohd.org. Statewide results are available online at www.askhys.com.
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