The latest voluntary survey of Minnesota students finds very strong decline since 2013 in cigarette and cigar smoking and use of smokeless tobacco. But Pete Rode with the state Health Department says on the minus side there’s a “sizable number of students — and that’s 17.1 percent of 11th graders for example — who say they’ve used electronic cigarettes or vaping devices in the past 30 days.” Rode says students also reported declines in alcohol and marijuana use and in early sexual activity. There’s also been a dramatic drop in use of indoor tanning devices, after a law was passed banning their use by young people.
About one-in-five students responding to the voluntary survey reported signs of depression, and 12 percent of 11th graders said they seriously considered suicide over the past year. Rode says, “There were increases there from 2013 to 2016 that are quite concerning, and it’s been too early to try to delve into why that might be.” Eighty-seven percent of students said they feel safe at home, at school, in their neighborhood and going to and from school. But 18 percent reported being bullied or harassed weekly over the past 30 days.