America is in the midst of a teenage mental health crisis, according to official data that suggests a staggering number of children are suicidal.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2021, 10.2 percent of US high school students said they had attempted to kill themselves in the past 12 months, up from around 8 percent in 2019
The CDC also found that 30 percent of high schoolers also said they had poor mental health ‘most of the time’. For girls, the figure was even higher — 40 percent.
The survey also found that one in three high schoolers are drug users, with one in six regularly using marijuana, one in four drinking alcohol and one in 16 on opioids.
Meanwhile, the report found nearly one in 30 students regularly walk around with a gun — at a time when the number of school shootings is rising, and firearms are now the leading killer of US children.
The CDC found that one in ten US high schoolers attempted suicide in 2021, up from 8.9 percent a year earlier. Females were struck hardest, with 13.3 percent attempting suicide that year
Nearly one-third of all US high schoolers report suffering from poor mental health. It comes as some of the nation’s leaders say the country is undergoing a youth crisis. Females suffered the most, with 40 percent reporting poor mental health that year
The state of the country’s youth mental health crisis was laid bare in the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, which was carried out in 2021.
The data was gathered at the height of the Covid pandemic, which the CDC says may have influenced findings.
Lockdowns, school closures and anxiety about the virus spurred mental health crises for many teens and surged rates of depression and anxiety.
Researchers also found a striking rise in children reporting mental health issues, especially among lesbian, gay and bisexual students.
The nationally representative survey included data from 17,232 children across 152 schools in 45 US states.
Teens were anonymously surveyed on many factors, from their mental health, sexual identity and whether they used drugs or carried weapons.
Students were asked if they had suffered suicidal thoughts and other poor mental health symptoms over the past 12 months.
The number of high schoolers who considered — but did not attempt — suicide in the past 12 years was 22.2 percent in 2021, up from 18.8 in 2019, the last time the survey was carried out.
This includes 30 percent of females in the age group, up from 24.1 percent two years before.
Researchers found that 29.3 percent of American high schoolers said their mental health was regularly poor in the past year, including 40.8 percent of female students.
At the same time, a record number of children are depressed drug use is also high.
If they had used a substance within the past 30 days the CDC would consider them a current user.
Around 30 percent of children admitted to currently abusing a substance.
The most common was alcohol, which 22 percent of students reported that they were drinkers.
Around half of that group, or ten percent of students total, had partaken in binge drinking over the past month, the CDC found.
For a man, binge drinking is considered to be drinking five or more alcoholic beverages during a single occasion. For women, it is four or more.
A single beverage is considered to be 12oz of beer — the size of a standard can — or 5oz of wine — what is usually considered the standard in a wine glass.
Around 16 percent of students currently use marijuana, as the drug becomes more commonplace in many parts of the country.
Recent studies have linked usage of the drug to poor mental health, especially among young people.
Six percent currently abuse opioids such as OxyContin and Percocet. The CDC did not ask how they obtained the drugs, just whether they were misused.
In some cases, a teen may have received a prescription from a doctor and then given the drugs to friends or used themselves in a way that went against doctors’ orders.
Rates of drug abuse are decreasing across the board, though.
Current alcohol abuse has dropped 20 percent from 29.2 percent of teens in 2019.
The number of children using marijuana over a 30 day period has fallen 27 percent from 21.7 percent in the last survey.
Nearly half of all US high schoolers have tried alcohol, while more than one in four have used marijuana at some points in their lives. Around one in ten have either abused opiates or inhalants in their life. These rates have decreased in recent years
One in 30 children regularly walk around with a gun regularly. These students are more likely to be 18 and often binge drink, use marijuana, abuse prescriptions or any other drug
These declines had begun as far back as 2009, when nearly half of high schoolers used alcohol.
‘This report documents that substance use prevalence among US high school students had been declining for a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the CDC wrote.
The CDC also gathered data on the lifetime use of popular drugs. They found that nearly half of teens had ever consumed alcohol and one in four had used marijuana.
Around one in ten had ever abused an inhalant or prescription opioids.
Students were also asked if they were current users of multiple drugs, had ever used the substances or if they took part in risky behaviors like carrying around a weapon or binge drinking.
Researchers also found that 3.5 percent of students regularly carry a gun. They are nearly twice as likely to be black, Hispanic or Native American.
The worrying data comes as scientists warn that firearms are now the leading killer of US children, according to a shocking University of Michigan study last year.
Students who regularly carry guns are also more likely to abuse drugs and suffer from severe mental health issues.
Researchers found that they are four times as likely to abuse any drug as their peers.
This includes four-fold jumps in alcohol and prescription drug abuse, and a 3.5-fold increase in marijuana use.
These are all new questions to the survey. Meaning that while there is no historical data available, researchers are now worried enough to track these metrics.
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