School Committee Worried About Number of Suicide Attempts in Watertown
The Youth Risk Survey found that the number of middle and high school students who attempted suicide is on the rise.
The number of students in Watertown who considered and even attempted suicide alarmed School Committee members.
A survey of students at Watertown High School found that one-in-10 tried to commit suicide and one-in-20 Watertown Middle School students had a suicide attempt, members of the Watertown Youth Coalition told the School Committee Monday night.
School Committee members were surprised by the numbers.
"I was taken aback by how many students either planned or attempted suicide," said School Committee member David Leon.
"The numbers of students who attempted suicide is troubling," added School Committee Vice Chairman John Portz.
The numbers were collected by the Watertown Youth Coalition in its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which also asks middle and high school students about drinking, drug use, bullying and sexual activity.
The rising number of suicide attempts concerned members of the School Committee. The 2012 survey found that 57 students, or 10.4 percent, of WHS students surveyed reported attempting suicide, down from 79 (14 percent) in 2011 but well above 2010 when 28 (6.2 percent) reported attempting suicide, said Stephanie Sunderland-Ramsey, program coordinator with the Watertown Youth Coalition.
At the middle school, 19 students (4 percent) said they attempted suicide at least once.
Watertown's numbers are above the state average, Sunderland added. The survey is designed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and is given in communities across the country, Sunderland said. The 2012 report is not out yet, but the 2011 report can be seen by clicking here.
There is no way to find out which students had attempted suicide, Sunderland said, because the surveys are annonymous.
The numbers of students who considered or even planned suicide attempts were even higher, Sunderland said. At the high school, 72 students (13 percent) said they considered suicide and 54 (10 percent) made plans. The middle school survey found 75 students (15.5 percent) considered it, and 44 (9 percent) made plans.
It is important for students to have someone to talk to, Sunderland said. Students were asked to leave messages for their parents during the Faire on the Square, and Sunderland said one stood out for her.
"One line was 'if you have gut feeling that there is a problem, then there probably is one," Sunderland said.
The Watertown Youth Coalition has programs to try to take on the issues of teen depression and suicide, and in the spring they will host an event called "Signs of Suicide," Sunderland said.
For more information contact the Watertown Youth Coalition, 617-926-3600, or go to www.watertownyouthcoalition.org.