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Report: Wisconsin Youth Suicide Rate on the Rise

Tuesday, January 29, 2019  
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January 29, Wisconsin Health News

Wisconsin is seeing an increase in youth suicide, according to an annual report.

The Office of Children's Mental Health released its annual report this month. 

Wisconsin youth suicide rates went up higher than national rates between 2015 and 2016, increasing from 7.5 per 100,000 to 9.8 per 100,000.

Elizabeth Hudson, the former director of the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, described the trend as “alarming” in a letter attached to the report.

The rate of youth mental health hospitalizations is higher than the national average, as are juvenile arrest rates.

And there’s been a decrease in early childhood screenings, an increase in the percentage of children with parents or guardians who’ve been jailed and a slight increase in the percentage of young adults diagnosed with a mental illness.

The report also noted a decrease in the percentage of children engaged in “flourishing behaviors” in both the state and nation. Those behaviors include demonstrating affection, curiosity and resilience, according to the report. 

The state has also seen several promising trends, including strong four-year-old kindergarten attendance, declining teenage pregnancy rates and an increase in the number of children reporting a positive adult mentor.

There's also been growth in the young adult employment rate, a reduction in youth alcohol use and illegal drug use and an increase in mental health professionals.

The report also noted the work of state agencies on improving children’s mental health. That includes efforts to expand home visits by the Department of Children and Families, fund crisis services by the Department of Health Services and increase trauma-informed care.