Survey shows troubling trends for Duval County middle & high school students

Action News Jax | By Logan MacDonals | February 8, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Suicide risk is on the rise, with sexual health on the decline for Duval County middle school and high school students, according to recently released survey results by the Florida Department of Health in Duval County.

The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that 24.4 percent of Duval County middle schoolers reported ever having made a plan to attempt suicide. However, that isn’t the only worrying trend found in terms of suicide risk behaviors.

The survey also shows that around 16 percent of Duval County middle schoolers had reported attempting suicide before. Both statistics doubled the amount of middle schoolers reporting those behaviors in 2011, ten years prior.

Action News Jax spoke with one parent who said they are extremely worrying trends to see as a parent.

“It’s very scary to think about that. You know, you don’t know if your kid’s gonna come home the next day. And I hate to say that, but it’s the truth,” says Tabita Mormino.

Mormino says she believes that bullying is the main cause of these trends, which is on track with the 2021 survey results.

According to the survey, over a third of middle school students surveyed report having been bullied on school property.

However, at the end of day, Mormino says it really comes down to the students’ life at home. Mormino says it’s vital to create an environment where children feel welcome to come to their parents about anything.

“My fourteen year old goes here at Fletcher Middle and both of my kids are comfortable, to me, that they know they can come to me for anything and everything,” says Mormino. “That’s how you do it as a parent.”

Furthermore, the issue is widespread across grades, as the survey also shows that just over 16 percent of high school students surveyed report having attempted suicide in the twelve months leading up to the 2021 survey.

Sexual health is also shown to be on the decline, as less than half of the sexually active middle school students surveyed reported condom use during their last sexual encounter, representing over a 20 percent drop since 2011.

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