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Suicide Attempts Decline among New Mexico High School Students

September 8, 2015 - Mental Health - Information

ImageA Department of Health report finds self-reported suicide attempts among New Mexico high school students (grades 9-12) decreased by 35 percent over the past decade, from 14.5 percent in 2003 to 9.4 percent in 2013.

The YRRS Report 2013: Statewide High School & Middle School Mental Health looks at data from 2003 to 2013, the most recent data available, and is being released in conjunction with September’s National Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention Week, September 6-12.

“The decrease in teen suicide attempts shows that we have made progress, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “It speaks to the success of continuous prevention efforts to reach children and young adults. It also shows more parents, health care professionals, and educators are recognizing youth suicide warning signs, such as depression and substance abuse.” 

The Department of Health’s Office of School and Adolescent Health continues to promote mental health among students by providing training and funding for 54 school-based health clinics, which provide behavioral and primary health services for students. 

In addition to finding a double-digit decrease in the number of teens reporting attempting suicide, the report finds:

  • Suicide attempts resulting in an injury that required treatment by a doctor or nurse decreased by nearly 60 percent from 7.5 percent in 2003 to 3.1 percent in 2013 among high school students.
  • One in 5 (20.2 percent of) New Mexico high school students engaged in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), such as cutting or burning themselves on purpose without the intent to die, in 2013. NSSI is correlated with anxiety and depression, and is a strong predictor of suicide.
  • Among middle school students (grades 6-8), 13.6 percent of respondents had ever made a plan to kill themselves, and 7.8 percent had ever tried to kill themselves.

Although self-reported suicide attempts have decreased among New Mexico high school students and suicide rates for New Mexico youth 10-19 years of age have decreased from 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population (2003-2005) to 9.4 deaths per 100,000 population (2012-2014), New Mexico youth still experience a suicide rate more than 60 percent higher than US youth.

The Department of Health partnered with the New Mexico Public Education Department and University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center to create this report, which describes results from the 2013 New Mexico YRRS questions about mental health. The YRRS is a biennial survey about risk behaviors among public middle school and high school students in New Mexico.

“While this information is important, the focus always remains on our children in New Mexico,” Secretary Ward said. “Suicide and suicide attempts are affecting too many youth and young adults. Parents and guardians should look for changes in their child, such as talking about taking one's life, or feeling sad or hopeless about the future. Other changes to look out for include changes in eating or sleeping habits, or losing desire to participate in activities.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line 24/7 at 1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474) to speak with a counselor or to find treatment near you.


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