Idaho teens’ experience with bullying, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts were highlighted in a new study. The 2017 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey gives schools, communities and the state an overview of the health status and risk behavior of adolescents in Idaho.
The survey tracked behaviors from students, grade 9 thru 12, into 6 categories:
Behaviors — including violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors — that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STDs, unhealthy dietary behaviors and inadequate physical activity.
“Twenty-two percent of youths that are considering seriously the idea of suicide this year, that’s a concerning statistic. Because if you look at the National Institute of Mental Health statistics, only about one-fourth of the population each year should be experiencing a mental health concern. So we’re essentially saying, every student that’s experiencing a mental health concern is going to the point of thinking that suicide’s an option. So what that tells me is that they don’t understand treatment is available and treatment helps,” said clinical psychologist Dr. John Landers.
The percentage of students who rode with someone who had been drinking alcohol decreased significantly, from 30 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2017.
“The specific finding that less students are driving with less intoxicated drivers — I think that’s a real positive, so its a good drop,” Landers said.
71.5 percent of students have at least one adult in the school they can talk to if they have a problem, linking to better student-teacher relationships.
“That means, three-fourths of kids feel like they can talk to somebody. My question would be why does one-fourth not? And when we look at risk, in particular with something like suicide, where something like belongingness is a problem, then 25 percent of students not having a connection with someone is a problem,” said Landers.
The percentage of students who reported they have tried smoking in the Gem State has decreased by 20 percent in the past 10 years.
“It seems like there’s a lot of education out there. Education changes behavior — people understand the consequences for certain behaviors, they can make more informed choices,” said Landers.
This information is used for deciding the future of everything related to student health and school safety and security.