1991-2015 Longitudinal Prevalence Trends of Suicide Ideation Among High School Students in the U.S.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Yu-han Zheng, BSN
Yu-ku Chen, BSN
Jiunn-Jye Sheu, PhD, MSPH
School of Population Health, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA


This study is aimed to describe the trends of suicide ideation during a 24-year time span from 1991-2015 among nationally representative high school students and to stratify those high school students by gender, grade, and ethnicity/race.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Division of Adolescent and School Health, and they created a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The Youth Risk Behavior System has a survey that is published once every two years, and the surveys have been conducted since 1991. These surveys are used to watch health risk behaviors in young people, and they are at the state, local, and national levels. YRBSS scientifically samples high schools in the United States in order to collect data. This is said to be among the most representative data for young people. YRBSS is used to see what the prevalence of health risk behaviors is in young people. It helps to see whether the rates increase, decrease, or stay the same. In addition to that, YRBSS can be used to see if certain health-risk behaviors occur at the same time. YRBSS does not look at what causes health risk behaviors. In addition to providing state, local, and national data, YRBSS can be used to look at and provide data for subpopulations of young people. Furthermore, YRBSS helps with monitoring the progress in reaching national objects for the years 2000, 2010, and 2020.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System produces a Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Youth Risk Behavior Surveys are used to look at six different categories of behaviors that can cause problems such as disabilities and death. The categories of behaviors are measured in the United States. The behaviors that are measured are: 1) behaviors that increase the risk of violence and unintentional injuries; 2) using tobacco; 3) using alcohol and other drugs; 4) being sexually active and getting STD’s or getting pregnant; 5) eating unhealthy foods; and 6) level of physical activity, which shows the amount of overweight/obese people and the amount of people who have asthma.


All three figures have the same trends in regard to gender; however, there are no generalizable trends when looking at the suicidal ideation rates between grade and race/ethnicity. White females had a declining amount of suicidal thoughts across grade level between the years 1991-1993. During those same years, there was a peak for White females for all of the grades except for twelfth grade where it declined from 1991-1997 for twelfth grade. Another trend is that for White females, there was a decreasing trend from 2001-2003. Each one of the grade levels for Hispanic or Latino have different peaks in different years. Furthermore, there is an inconsistent decrease in the prevalence of suicidal ideation for females within the African American race/ethnicity for all of the high school grade levels between the years 1991-1993.


In conclusion, the current literature reported insufficient about adolescent longitudinal trends in suicide ideation with limited stratification by grade over the year, and did not find much information from CDC either. Such understanding help to know each groups results.