The California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) is a confidential series of questions answered by students in the fifth, seventh, ninth, and. eleventh grades in the state of California. The anonymous survey collects data on students' health risks, their everyday behaviors, school violence, youth resilience, school safety, and the overall health and wellness of these students, amongst other related data. This data is used to create future plans to improve California schools and create resources to assist students that are struggling.
One of the questions in a recent CHKS survey (data collected from 2017-2019) gauged whether the students surveyed had contemplated suicide in the past twelve months. The answers from the respondents were categorized in many ways, including divided by their gender. The results were striking.
Of the seventh-graders in California who responded (students generally between the ages of 12 or 13), 21 percent of girls had considered suicide in the past twelve months, compared with ten percent of boys. The gender divide is similar for California ninth-graders who responded to the survey (students generally between the ages of 14 and 15), with 21 percent of girls responding that they had considered suicide in the past twelve months, compared with 11 percent of boys.
The gender difference between percentages of students who report they have considered suicide in the past twelve months is less stark in eleventh-graders in California. 20% of female-identifying students responded in the affirmative to this question while 13% of male-identifying students said they had considered suicide.
Suicide replaced homelessness in 2016 as the second leading cause of death amongst young people, according to the Population Reference Bureau. While the number of deaths of children ages 15-19 due to accidents and homicide have decreased since 1999, the number of deaths for this age group due to suicide has increased.
The National Institutes of Health also asserts that rates of teen suicide differ based on their geographic location. Teens who are located in more rural areas in America are, according to the NIH, at a greater risk of suicide than those living in urban areas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attributes this to fewer mental health services.
The NIH says, "About 64% of all U.S. counties had at least one mental health facility serving young people. However, only about 30% of highly rural counties had such facilities. Suicide prevention services were also much less likely to be offered in rural counties."
*If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.*