CDC Study Shows Troubling Picture of Teens, Mental Health, & Suicide

Mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide may be more common than church leaders realize — even among some of the youngest members of a congregation.

Around 1 in 3 high school students (31.5 percent) say they’ve experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, 17.2 percent say they’ve seriously considered attempting suicide, while 13.6 percent say they’ve made a suicide plan, 7.4 percent have attempted suicide, and 2.4 percent were injured in a suicide attempt.

In the light of recent high-profile suicides and because it’s easy for mental health struggles to remain hidden, church leaders may want to take note of the CDC’s latest findings.

10 years, no improvement

The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which has been conducted every other year since 1991, asks students from public and private high schools about their sexual behavior, substance abuse, violence victimization, and mental health. The most recent report, released earlier this month, shows data collected from 2007 to 2017.

When it comes to issues of mental health and suicide, researchers have seen concerning trends persist or get worse over the past 10 years.

The percentage of students who say they’ve experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness has increased by 3 points since 2007.

The percentage of students who’ve seriously considered attempting suicide has increased by 2.7 points, while the percentage of those who’ve made a suicide plan has increased by 2.3 points.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of suicide among members of the general public has increased quite significantly. Suicide claimed the lives of just under 45,000 Americans in 2016 — over 10,000 more Americans than it did in 2007 — according to additional CDC research.

Among those ages 10 to 34 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death, according to CDC data compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Source: Baptist Press