State ranks high in suicidal teens
Almost 18% of isle students consider ending their lives, a national survey discovers
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Hawaii public high school students again rank high in a national public health survey about whether they seriously considered suicide or came up with a suicide plan.
In the survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii students also registered high rankings in whether they attempted suicide or had a suicide attempt treated by a doctor.
The percentage of Hawaii teenagers who did not go to school because they felt unsafe was high compared with teens in other states. Also getting a high ranking was the percentage of Hawaii students who felt sad or hopeless.
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Hawaii's teenagers in the public schools think about suicide at a rate that is among the highest in the nation, according to a national survey released yesterday.
A national survey showed Hawaii public school students ranked higher than the national median for these types of risky behavior:
Made suicide plan
Seriously considered suicide
Suicide attempt treated
Felt unsafe at school
Felt sad or hopeless
Of high school students around the nation, Hawaii's students ranked second behind New Mexico for those who seriously considered attempting suicide -- 18.5 percent. Hawaii students
came in second
teens for those who made a suicide plan -- 17 percent to 17.8 percent.
Hawaii public school students also ranked high in these risky types of behavior: attempted suicide, suicide attempt treated by a doctor, not going to school because they felt unsafe, and feeling sad or hopeless.
The survey, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, questioned public and private students in high schools from 39 states and 22 cities about risky behaviors. However, only public school students were surveyed in Hawaii.
Nationally, the number of high school students engaging in high-risk behavior has declined since the early 1990s, but Hispanic students remained at a greater risk for certain health-related behaviors, a CDC news release said.
The biennial report, the 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, covered a period from January to December 2007. It looked at issues such as attempted suicide, drug use, riding with a driver who had been drinking, and seat belt use.
A separate state analysis of the national survey data, which will include additional questions related to local issues, is scheduled to be released next month.
Some state officials said the national survey alone had too many questions to be a reliable survey of Hawaii's youths and that the state trend report would provide a clearer picture.
While Hawaii students having suicidal thoughts seemed high in the report, students considering suicide in Hawaii actually declined from 1993 to 2007, dropping to 18.5 percent last year from 27.8 percent in 1993. Girls in Hawaii reported having suicidal thoughts at a higher rate than boys.
Since 1993 the number of students who attempted suicide in Hawaii has hovered at about 12 percent.
Local officials also expressed caution about the national report since the survey of Hawaii students does not include private schools. In Hawaii about 18 percent of students attend private schools.
Dan Galanis, an epidemiologist for the Health Department's Injury Prevention Program, said the state remains concerned about the higher rate of suicide attempts.
Suicide rates generally increase in households with lower incomes and educational levels, he said.
Overall, Hawaii has one of the lowest rankings for depression and suicide rates in the country at 41st, according to a national report released last year. Still, about 120 people commit suicide in Hawaii annually, Galanis said. From 2003 to 2007 an average of five teens between the ages of 14 and 18 annually committed suicide in Hawaii.
Bill Haning, a senior psychiatric faculty member at the University of Hawaii's Department of Psychiatry, said one reason for Hawaii's higher suicidal thoughts might be because Pacific islanders have a higher rate of suicide as a cultural way of dealing with depression.