Teens drinking and smoking less, but more feel hopeless

December 9, 2019 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s high school students are drinking less and using less tobacco, but more young people are having extended periods of feeling sad or hopeless, according to results of a survey about their health behavior released Monday.

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the survey showed fewer high school students reported being bullied at school, either electronically or personally.

Earlier this year, lawmakers extended the reach of a law intended to discourage bullying, and approved an administrative reorganization of the Department of Human Services’ regional centers to improve the availability of services for students.


While some trends are moving in the right direction, others are not, Baesler said.

“But an increased percentage of students who had extended periods of feeling sad or hopeless, seriously considered suicide, or the 13% of the survey’s respondents who had attempted suicide should cause us all to be gravely concerned,” Baesler said.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was developed in 1990 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is given in the spring of odd-numbered years to students in grades 7-8 and 9-12. Different questions are asked of middle school and high school students. Students choose whether to take the survey, and results are anonymous.