The Allegheny County Health Department, in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Pitt Public Health, conducted an anonymous telephone survey of more than 1,800 teens, the results of which were released in August. This survey was called the Healthy Allegheny Teen Survey (HATS) and was completed due to the lack of available data on our adolescents here in Allegheny County.
For us working on SOVA project this information was especially startling. The depression and suicide questions in particular found:
- During the last 12 months, 19% felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks in a row so they stopped doing their regular activities. [30% nationally]
- 10% report that they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months [17% nationally]
- Of those 10%, 42% report that they attempted suicide one or more times in the past 12 months.
- 35% report that they have hurt themselves on purpose in the past 12 months (no national data available)
On some points Allegheny is doing better than the national average. However, at SOVA we think that 19% of our adolescents feeling sad or hopeless every day for two weeks in a row and 35% having self-harmed is 19% and 35% too many. Our adolescents deserve so much better. SOVA was created in order to link adolescents and their parents to positive interactions with peers in a moderated environment and correct information about mental health to reduce barriers to treatment. With one fifth of our adolescents in Allegheny stopping activities they love due to depression, and over one third of our teens coping with self-harm we know there is still a lot of work to do.