One in five western Maine middle school students has seriously thought about committing suicide.
The same students were more likely than peers across the state to admit to having huffed paint, smoked marijuana, had sex, gambled or driven with someone drunk or high.
In Oxford County, middle-schoolers were least likely to say they felt like they mattered.
That information and more is in the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, a broad check-in by several state agencies on alcohol and tobacco use and home and school life. It provides a sometimes-troubling snapshot into the lives of local teens and tweens.
Kids reported risky behaviors at a young age and, for some, lax attitudes from mom and dad.
Western Maine middle-schoolers were least likely to think they’d be caught by parents if they sneaked a drink of alcohol and least likely to think parents would think it was wrong if they were busted.
Western Maine fifth- and sixth-graders were most likely to have known an adult who got drunk or high in the past year, and least likely to have firm rules about drugs and alcohol at home.
“It becomes confusing, and what happens when people become confused — they get a little lost and they’re not sure what to trust,” said Guy Cousins, director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, who, with Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will study the results of the survey to determine the messages that ought to be hitting different parts of the state.
“We are concerned that Western Maine has some higher numbers, but there’s other districts that have higher numbers in other areas,” Pinette said. “Overall, every child is important. We want them all to feel valued and have positive self-esteem.”
To read the full story, go to http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2014/02/15/survey-shows-troubling-trends-among-western-maine-teens-tweens/1492943.