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Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Teens are smoking and drinking less, but plenty use pot

One in six Washington youth ages 12 to 17 has seriously considered suicide, and 8 percent of students in eighth and 10th grades have attempted suicide in the past year, according to a state Department of Health survey.

The figures are the result of an October 2012 survey. The survey included about 200,000 students from across the state and addressed sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, depression and commitment to school.

The survey shows fewer students are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes than in the past, although the percentage of 10th- and 12th-graders who smoke marijuana is nearly double the percentage of those who smoke cigarettes, according to a news release from the Health Department.

The number of 10th-graders who smoke cigarettes has decreased by more than 50 percent since 1999 and fell from 13 percent to 10 percent since 2010.

More than a third of 12th-graders said they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, although the overall number of students who drink is down 11,000 since 2010.

The number of teens who said they had felt sad or hopeless for at least two weeks and stopped doing their usual activities has not improved in the past 10 years, the release said.

Almost 30 percent of 10th- and 12th-graders reported feeling that level of depression, along with about 25 percent of eighth-graders.

Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Kevin Quigley said in the release that the emotional health of students is just as important as avoiding drinking and smoking.

“It’s good to celebrate that fewer teens are using alcohol and tobacco, but it’s clear many teens need more support from the adults in their lives and from friends to make healthy choices and cope with challenges,” Quigley said.

Sexual activity questions were new to this survey. About a third of 10th-graders and more than half of 12th-graders reported having sexual intercourse. About one in eight 12th-graders reported having four or more sexual partners.

The release said the information will be used to create effective disease prevention programs.

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