Fewer Teens Smoking & Drinking, More Feeling Depressed - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fewer Teens Smoking & Drinking, More Feeling Depressed

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Kennewick, Wash. - More than 200,000 Washington middle school and high school students recently took part in a survey about their health and health behaviors.

This is a statewide survey but the Benton Franklin Health District said more than 7,000 students in the Tri-Cities took part. So, it does offer a fairly accurate depiction of what kids in the area are dealing with. 

The positives from the report are that fewer students are smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. But locally, Dr. Amy Person said drinking continues to be a problem.


The number of students statewide who believe using marijuana is risky dropped to the lowest level yet. Another big issue is mental health. A large number of kids said they seriously considered suicide in the past year.

"We don't have as many facilities to provide those services, particularly the emergency services, as some areas because of funding cuts. So I think trying to improve access to those support services is going to be very important across the board," Dr. Person said.

She said the information gathered from these surveys helps them figure out what they need to do to help. After reviewing the results, she said they will be focusing more on the mental health of students this year.



OLYMPIA, Wash. - A health survey in the state shows fewer teenagers are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol but more teens are feeling depressed.

According to the Healthy Youth Survey, smoking cigarettes is down in all grades. About 10 percent of 10th graders reported smoking a cigarette at least once in the past 30 days. That's down from nearly 13 percent in 2010 and from 25 percent in 1999.

The survey shows nearly 11,000 fewer students are using alcohol compared to 2010. Survey results show that 12 percent of 8th graders, 23 percent of 10th graders, and 36 percent of 12th graders used alcohol in the past 30 days.

The survey also reports about 8 percent of 8th and 10th graders attempted suicide in the past year. Over 100,000 youth, ages 12-17, seriously considered suicide – about one in every six students. More than one in four teens surveyed said they felt so sad or hopeless for two weeks in a row that they stopped doing usual activities: 26 percent in 8th grade, 31 percent in 10th grade, and 30 percent in 12th grade. These numbers haven't changed much over the past 10 years.

Students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 in more than 1,000 public schools in the state take the survey every two years. Over 200,000 kids took the survey in October 2012 by answering a variety of questions about their health and health behaviors.