A new report finds more Iowa youth are taking up vaping, and more of them are having thoughts about suicide. The 2018 Iowa Youth Survey shows about 10-percent of Iowa’s 6th, 8th and 11th graders reported they’ve made a plan to kill themselves in the past year. That’s up from seven-percent in 2012. Pat McGovern, the Iowa Youth Survey director, says that increase is alarming. McGovern says, “It’s something that was almost a punch in my stomach when I looked, that there’s so much more work that needs to be done.” McGovern says there could be a lot of things playing into the increase, like mental health and social media, but it’s hard to point to a specific cause. He says health officials will focus on raising awareness about suicide.
The survey also found fewer Iowa teens are smoking cigarettes, but vaping is on the rise. Garin Buttermore with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says it mirrors a national decline in interest in combustible cigarettes, while electronic cigarettes are picking up traction. “That has taken hold,” Buttermore says. “Young people aren’t interested in ‘smoking,’ but the vaping is the new hip trend, it’s cool.” He says health officials are working to educate youth about the harmful chemicals e-cigarettes produce. He says Iowa health providers ask patients about their tobacco use at every check-up.
The report did show some improvements: 20-percent of 11th graders say they drank alcohol, which is a six-percent drop from the 2016 survey.
Link: Iowa Youth Survey 2018 full report