Growing number of Washington students report they’ve thought about suicide — or attempted it

In the latest Healthy Youth Survey, a higher percentage of Washington students reported high anxiety and said they have considered or attempted suicide.

In every average-size high-school class in this state, there are likely two or three students who have attempted suicide in the past year. An additional three or four probably have seriously considered ending their lives.

Those numbers are from the latest Healthy Youth Survey, given statewide to students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades. And the results of that fall 2016 survey, released last week, found that the percentage of students who experience high anxiety, and who consider or attempt suicide, is on the rise in Washington state.

The number of eighth- and 10th-grade students who have thought about suicide, for example, has increased by at least 6 percentage points in the past decade. That suggests a greater need for counselors and suicide-prevention training in schools, experts said.

“We’re concerned,” said Michael Langer, behavioral health and prevention chief for the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery. “When you look at the number of young people in our state that this is affecting, that’s a challenge. Nobody wants a young person to be in a place where they feel like they don’t have supports, whether in home or in school.”

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The Healthy Youth Survey is administered every two years to more than 230,000 Washington students in all counties. The survey asks students a number of questions about health and health-risk behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, violence and bullying.

In the 2016 survey, girls reported a higher rate of suicidal thoughts and attempts than boys. Among the sophomores surveyed, 26 percent of girls reported thinking about suicide and 13 percent said they had attempted it, compared with 14 percent and 7 percent of boys, respectively. However, more…

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