Troubling Mental Health Trends for Snohomish County Youth
Healthy Youth Survey highlights where prevention efforts and conversations are needed
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Data released in March from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey showed Snohomish County youth are making smarter, healthier choices when it comes to substance use. Unfortunately, those promising trends are not seen in results relating to youth mental health. Snohomish County data shows 22.7% of 12th grade students said they had seriously considered suicide within the last year, nearly double the 11.7% reported in 2006.
Fact Sheets: Depression & Suicide
Unintentional Injury Risk
The most vulnerable populations for depression and suicidal ideation (seriously considering suicide or having a suicide plan) appear to be females, Native American students, and students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Tenth graders who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported serious consideration of suicide, planning suicide, and attempting suicide at more than three times the rate of classmates who identify as straight.
The Healthy Youth Survey, conducted bi-annually in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, has a series of questions that ask to determine a student’s quality of life. Forty-percent of 10th graders who scored ‘low’ on the quality of life scale reported having a plan around attempting suicide compared to 2.4% of ‘high’ quality of life students. Individual factors from the scale that had a large protective impact included getting along with parents and high life satisfaction.
More schools are implementing mental health curriculum, and Snohomish County eight and tenth-grade students recalled in the last year hearing or seeing information at their school about the warning signs of suicide and how to get help for yourself or a friend at a statistically greater rate compared to the state average. Both grades also showed significant increases in this measure compared to 2014 survey results.
For those who spend time with children in a non-education setting, such as coaching or leading a youth group, resources like Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training or an 8-hour Youth Mental Health First Aid class can be helpful to know the warning signs and next steps if one suspects a youth is suicidal. These warning signs can include:
- Talk of suicide, being a burden to others, or saying they have no reason to live or feel trapped;
- Showing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. Being irritable, showing signs of rage, humiliation or a sudden loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy;
- Exhibiting behaviors such as increased use of alcohol or drugs, acting recklessly, sleeping too much or too little, giving away prized possessions, visiting or calling people to say goodbye
One of the most important factors in reducing suicides is ending the stigma and shame that can be associated with discussing mental health or seeking help. There is always hope for those who are struggling with mental health issues or thoughts of suicide. The 24-hour Care Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 425.258.4357 or 800.584.3578. Online crisis chat is also available at www.imhurting.org. The crisis line is not just for individuals in crisis, but for those wanting to assist a friend or loved one who is feeling suicidal. There is a texting crisis resource also available by texting 741-741.
The Snohomish Health District has prepared facts sheets on these topics. Each one features the most relevant questions and data for students in our county, as well as suggestions for what parents, schools, community groups, and government leaders can do moving forward. The fact sheets can be found by visiting www.snohd.org/Records-Reports/Data-Reports.
The next release of Healthy Youth Survey data expected this summer will be on topics related to abuse, bullying, school and community environment. For more information on statewide Healthy Youth Survey data, visit www.AskHYS.net.