CDC: Girls’ risk of violence, depression, suicide is twice the rate of boys

The Samaritan Counseling Center in Menasha is working with area school districts to offer wellness screens
The CDC says girls in Wisconsin are twice as likely as boys to experience violence, depression and suicide risk
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 7:49 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:25 PM CST
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MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) - Teenage girls are experiencing violence, depression and suicide risk at a concerning rate right now, often at twice the rate of boys. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported a quarter of Wisconsin girls have considered dying by suicide. Twenty percent of girls made a plan, and 11% of girls made an attempt.

“I think what girls in particular are dealing with are a lot of things related to body image, with what they’ve seen on social media. What does that mean for their own value and worth?” Samaritan Wellness Screen Director Amy D’Addario said.

Research shows nearly 70% live with anxiety while 50% feel sad and hopeless most days.

Samaritan Counseling Center in Menasha is one organization working to shrink those numbers through its programs, including wellness screenings in schools. The screening asks about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with mental health risks.

“Ultimately kids do struggle with mental health and do sometimes take their own lives because of mental health concerns, and if we can prevent that in any way because of screening and because of asking these questions that’s ultimately what we want to do,” D’Addario explained.

This year, Samaritan is working in 9 school districts, including Appleton, Oshkosh, De Pere and Stockbridge, and expects to offer more than 6,000 wellness screenings.

“This type of screening isn’t any different than the other types of screening people are recommended to do. This is life-saving measures to try to identify things as early as possible,” D’Addario expressed.

According to Samaritan’s website, “If mental health needs are identified, results will be verbally shared with the student and their parent/legal guardian. Wellness Screen staff will provide resources and offer support to find appropriate mental health services.”

Samaritan does not diagnose or treat concerns but helps students and families think about mental health and the next steps to treatment.

“Earlier and earlier we need to be concerned about these things -- particularly suicide,” D’Addario said. “In the past, we used to think about suicide and suicide research for 12 and above and that’s no longer the case. We’re really thinking about ten or nine or above.”

Right now Samaritan is unveiling a pilot program focused on third through fifth graders, where both students and their guardians complete the screen.

“We’ve seen about 50% of our middle schoolers–somewhere between 40 and 50%, that indicate they have potential mental health concerns so even by sixth, seventh and eighth grade they’re already struggling. We know we need to do better with that.”

Samaritan wants to offer workplace screening in the future.

“The hope is that you catch this early enough so that treatment and care is easier and more successful.”

If you or someone you know is struggling right now, there is a free lifeline to help. Call 988 and you’ll be connected with a trained counselor.

CDC: Girls’ risk of violence, depression, suicide is twice the rate of boys