Teenage movies have convinced a lot of us that adolescents are obsessed with sex and drugs. But a new study from the CDC has revealed that today’s teens do not fit that stereotype. Inverse reports that according to the new results of the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, there has been a 20 percent decrease in the number of students who drank alcohol, a 15 percent decrease in the number of students who’ve had sex, and 6 percent decrease in their use of hallucinogenic drugs.
The report analyzed the data collected between 1991 and 2017 and seems to indicate that parents of teenagers can start breathing easier. But the CDC adds that there are more threats to their well-being on the horizon. The report noted that there has been a “linear increase” in obesity, which increased by 4.2 percent during the time period. They also found that the number of teens who said they had not been eating vegetables had increased by 3 percent as well.
Another worrying development noted in the report is the increase in the number of young people who say that they feel “sad and hopeless.” According to Inverse, there are indications that there has been a rise in suicidal ideations among teens.
“Despite the linear decreases in the prevalence of having seriously considered suicide and having made a suicide plan… having seriously considered attempting suicide increased since 2007 and having made a suicide plan increased since 2009,” the CDC team observed.
Following Kate Spade’s suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed data that underscored the seriousness of suicide as a public health concern. Suicides rose in almost every state in the U.S. between 1999 and 2016. They also maintained that mental health issues like depression may not be the cause of the increase, since, for example, it’s “rare” among people who live with depression, Inverse reports.
Some have questioned whether social media is to blame for the rise in teenage suicides. Last month, NBC News reported on a Vanderbilt University study that examined suicide rates and ideation among teens. The research found that although suicide attempts caused just 1 percent of all hospital visits by adolescents, there’s been a steady increase in that number over the years. Fifty percent of the hospital visits for suicide were by teens aged 15 to 17, 37 percent were between 12 and 14. The other 13 percent were by children between the ages of 5 and 11.
When asked about the cause of the increase, Dr. Gregory Plemmons of Vanderbilt University said that he could not give a concrete answer. He added that the suggestion that social media could be playing a role is linked to the disconnecting nature of the various apps that teens use to communicate.
Hospital visits were also more frequent during the school year, which could indicate that the intellectual and social pressure of schooling could be linked to a high suicide rate among teens.