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CDC Report Outlines Drug Use, Suicide Rates and Violence Among High School Students

photo of students at school
According to the survey, drug use is down, but suicide rates and violence rates are largely the same.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings of their 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey today, measuring the rates of drug use, instances of violence and suicidal thoughts and actions among the nation’s teens.

Fewer teenagers are using drugs and having sex, according to the survey results, but there are still many areas of concern for the public health agency.

Drug use
When it comes to drug use, the 2017 survey found less than 5 percent of the nation’s teens report ever having used drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and hallucinogens.

Less than 2 percent report ever having used heroin, although the rates for black male students are the highest at nearly 3 percent.

Opioid prescription abuse has increased, according to the report.

Prescription opioids, however, saw higher rates of abuse. Fourteen percent of teens report having taken drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin and hydrocodone without a prescription or differently than how a doctor had prescribed.

Rates of misuse of prescription drugs were the highest among Hispanic teens when broken down by race, grade and sex. Nearly 18 percent of 12th grade males reported misuse.

Violence at School
The report shows threats or acts of violence at schools have declined since 1993, when the tracking began, but when broken down by decade, they show a notable trend.

Between 1993 and 2003, the number of students reporting they had been threatened with or injured by a weapon on school property in the past year increased by 2 percent. From 2003 to 2017, that number then declined from its peak of 9.2 to 6 percent in 2017.

The CDC reports the number of students that say they’ve experienced violence at school has largely remained the same since 2015. Nearly 4 percent say they’ve carried a weapon on school property, which includes a gun, knife, or club.

Youth Suicide
Nearly one in seven American teens have seriously considered committing suicide in the past year. About 14 percent of students have made a plan to commit suicide, and about 7 percent have made an attempt, the survey found.

The rates of attempt are highest among students in the LGBTQ community.

About 5 percent of teens who identify as heterosexual have attempted suicide, but 23 percent, or almost a quarter, of teens who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual have tried to take their own life.

The overall rate of teens attempting suicide has largely remained the same since the CDC began measuring the behavior in 1991.