Youth Risk Survey

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

Youths sometime engage in risky behavior and that behavior can affect the rest of their lives. The 2002 Youth Risk Behavior Survey was released at Staunton School Board meeting on Monday night.

In 1999 when the Youth Risk Behavior Survey was taken, the answers about suicide caught the attention of school officials. Now the 2002 results show thoughts about suicide are down.

That's not to say students don't think about causing harm to themselves, but ninth grade students who have thought about suicide is down by 50 percent to those surveyed in 1999.

Staunton school officials say programs they implemented have helped.

"One was that the school use some grant funds to provide a crisis counselor at the high school one day a week," said Barbara Smallwood of Shelburne Middle School, "We also implemented some resiliency building programs in our elementary, middle and high school."

School officials also got training on how to deal with suicide and suicide prevention.

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Teen Suicide

  • Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide.

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-14-year-olds.

  • Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up.

  • For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts.

  • Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders.

  • The child or adolescent needs to have his or her illness recognized and diagnosed, and appropriate treatment plans developed. When parents are in doubt whether their child has a serious problem, a psychiatric examination can be very helpful.

Warning Signs

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities.
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance.
  • Marked personality change.
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or decline in the quality of school work.
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Not tolerating praise or rewards.
  • Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten.
  • Give verbal statements like, “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again.”
  • Put his or her affairs in order, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings.
  • Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
  • Have signs of physical psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts).

Source: (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Web site) contributed to this report.

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