Chicago Leads Nation in Teen Suicide Planning, Attempts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report

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    Chicago teens are among the most depressed in the nation, a national survey out Thursday reveals.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report, and it shows that Chicago teens, more than anywhere else in the country, have considered suicide or attempted suicide.

    Data from the survey came from a nationally representative sample of more than 15,000 students in public and private high schools in the United States.

    Nationwide, nearly 16 percent of students admitted they'd considered suicide within the 12 months prior to them being questioned. Nearly eight percent of them had attempted. In Chicago, nearly 16 percent of students had attempted suicide.

    "When adolesence and children feel embarrassed, it's kind of like the end of the world for them," said Dr. Hector Adames, a Chicago neuropsychologist.

    He points to constant digital communication as the problem.

    "What happens with an increase in communication among students is that there's more pressure. There's more bullying," he said.

    And the CDC survey found that more than 12 percent of Chicago teens reported being bullied on school property. Nearly 11 percent of teens said they'd skipped school due to safety concerns.

    Adames said it's important parents stay involved in their child's lives.

    "It's OK to be vigilant. It's OK to ask questions. And most important: observe, observe, observe. If there's any change, if there's anything different about your child."

    Other Chicago-specific data reported by the CDC:

    • 94.3 percent of teens said they rarely or never wore a bicycle helmet within 12 months of the survey, the most nationwide
    • 33.2 percent said they'd been in a vehicle with a driver who'd been drinking at least one day one day within 30 days of the survey
    • 7.6 percent said they'd driven when drinking alcohol at least once within 30 days of being surveyed
    • 16.5 percent reported carrying a weapon within 30 days of the survey
    • 5.8 percent reported carrying a gun within 30 days of the survey
    • 4.7 percent said they'd carried a weapon on school property
    • 11.1 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, the most nationwide
    • 39.3 percent reported being in a physical fight within 12 months of being surveys. Chicago teens ranked behind Milwaukee and Philadelphia
    • 6.5 percent reported being injured in physcial fight, leading the nation
    • 17.7 percent said they'd been in a fight on school property, leading the nation
    • 12.8 percent said they'd been bullied on school property
    • 11.5 percent reported being electronically bullied
    • 10.8 percent said they didn't go to school because of safety concerns
    • 16.3 percent of teens reported dating violence. Chicago ranked #2, behind Detroit
    • 9.3 percent of teens said they were forced to have sexual intercourse
    • 30.3 percent reported feeling sad or hopeless; 38.7 girls of girls and 21.1 percent of boys
    • 15.5 percent seriously considered attempting suicide, leading the nation
    • 13.9 percent made a suicide plan. Chicago ranked behind Duval County, Fla and Houston
    • 15.8 percent reported they'd attempted suicide, the most in the nation
    • 51.1 percent said they'd tried cigarettes
    • 7.5 percent said they smoked a cigarette daily. Chicago came third behind Washington, D.C. and Boston
    • 11.1 percent said they'd smoked a whole cigarette before age 13
    • 13.6 percent said they currently smoke cigarettes
    • 42.6 percent reported they'd used marijuana at least once
    • 11.9 percent said they'd tried marijuana before age 13
    • 25.0 percent said they currently use marijuana
    • 9.1 percent said they used marijuana on school property within 30 days of being surveyed
    • 5.9 percent reported they'd used cocaine at least once
    • 2.2 percent said they currently use cocaine
    • 52.2 percent said they'd had sexual intercourse
    • 11.9 percent said they'd had sex before age 13; 4.2 percent of girls and 21.5 percent of boys
    • 17.5 percent of teens reporting having four or more sex partners
    • 37.8 percent said they were currently sexually active
    • 12.4 percent said they hadn't eaten vegetables in the week prior to being surveyed
    • 48.9 percent reported eating vegetables at least once per day
    • 20.6 percent of teens said they hadn't had 60 min of physical activity in the week prior to being surveyed

    The surveys were conducted between September 2010 and December 2011, the CDC said.

    CDC: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance