COLUMBIANA CO., Ohio (WKBN) – September is National Suicide Prevent Awareness Month, and according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S.

An ASFP survey from 2019 found that almost 9% percent of youths have attempted suicide, but a 2021 survey out of Columbiana County shows that 23% of youths there have attempted suicide.

Every two years in Columbiana County since 2000, students in grades 7, 9 and 10 are asked about risk-taking behaviors in what’s called the Attitudes and Behaviors Survey. The most recent survey was administered in 2021 and had more than 1,500 qualified responses.

According to the survey, 23% of students in Columbiana County say they have attempted suicide, which is up 3% since the last time the survey was administered in 2018.

“I think, definitely being in more rural areas, it is it is much harder to get access to services,” says child psychiatrist Dr. Carmen Harlan.

Harlan is a psychiatrist at Akron Children’s Hospital and has been working in this field for nearly 30 years. She says social media and cyberbullying could be contributing factors.

But doctors are still studying what is driving up suicide in adolescents.

“I think we live in a world now where there is just a lot more pressure on kids to keep up with each other. There’s a lot more opportunities for kids to be exposed to situations that that put them in vulnerable situations,” says Harlan.

Harlan suggests talking with your kids about self-harming behaviors.

“Just — asking your child about whether they’re having any feelings about hurting themselves is not going to cause them to hurt themselves.

The Attitudes and Behaviors Survey also found other troubling statistics regarding youth in Columbiana County. It found that of the 1,500+ students surveyed:

  • 30% engaged in bulimic or anorexic behavior
  • 31% felt sad or depressed
  • 18% used alcohol in the last month
  • 10% used marijuana in the last year