Danville and San Ramon, CA: Mental Health and Suicide Statistics for Teens

Teens in the San Ramon Unified School District took a survey last year to gauge their rates of substance use and mental health issues.

This survey, called the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), asked public school students statewide about a number of different issues in their lives: family connectedness, safety and crime at school, bullying, academics, mental health, substance use, and more.

Officials administered this anonymous, confidential survey to students in grades seven, nine, and eleven in the following schools:

  • California High
  • Charlotte Wood Middle
  • Del Amigo High (Continuation)
  • Diablo Vista Middle
  • Dougherty Valley High
  • Gale Ranch Middle
  • Iron Horse Middle
  • Los Cerros Middle
  • Monte Vista High
  • Pine Valley Middle
  • San Ramon Valley High
  • Stone Valley Middle
  • Venture (Alternative)
  • Windemere Ranch Middle

If your teen attends or attended one of these schools, taking a look at the results of this survey might be helpful. Though the results are aggregated and percentage participation at each school varied, the data provides a glimpse of what your teen’s peers – and others in their age group – are struggling with.

So, without further ado, here’s the data.

San Ramon High School Students – Mental Health and Substance Use Statistics

(2017-2018)

 7th Grade (%)9th Grade (%)11th Grade (%)NT (%)
     
Current alcohol or drug use*282663
Current marijuana use¶041559
Current binge drinking*021242
Very drunk or “high” 7 or more times, ever021348
Been drunk or “high” on drugs at school, ever131044
     
Current cigarette smoking*00223
Current electronic cigarette use161948
Experienced chronic sadness/hopelessness§16253538
Considered suicide§                       9142022
     
  

*in the past 30 days

§ within the past 12 months

Comparing Results

We compared previous CHKS surveys to the most recent one shown here. We see the rate of suicidal ideation in San Ramon Valley Unified school students is, unfortunately, on the rise.

In 2015, for example, 12 percent of 9th graders and 13 percent of 11th graders said they had “seriously considered suicide” in the past year. In 2019, that number jumped to 14 percent for 9th graders and 20 percent for 11th graders. Together, that’s a 9-point increase in suicidal ideation.

Also, in this 2019 survey, an average of 28.5 percent of high school students reported they had experienced chronic sadness and hopelessness. These students who answered yes to the question “During the past 12 months, did you ever feel so sad and hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that you stopped doing some usual activities?”

This rate is about 2 percent higher than in 2015, when the average rate of students who felt chronically sad and hopeless was 25.75 percent.

Preventing Teen Suicide in Danville and San Ramon Valley

According to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, there are a number of different measures the district has taken to prevent suicide. Here’s what they’ve done:

Suicide Prevention Training

Since 2017, school staff have received specialized suicide prevention training. Teachers, administrators, and general staff learn how to spot symptoms of depression and identify the warning signs related to suicide. They also receive more in-depth training on risk factors and protective factors for suicide.

Toolkit for Schools

In 2017, several school psychologists in the district co-published the “Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Schools,” which was modeled on Palo Alto Unified School District’s Suicide Prevention Toolkit. (Palo Alto compiled the toolkit after several alarming waves of student suicides in the area.) The Toolkit addresses ways to create a safe and secure school climate, how to identify and monitor at-risk students, and how to intervene when noticing signs of mental health issues such as depression or suicidal ideation. The publication, distributed to faculty, also discusses the importance of monitoring students after they return to school following psychiatric hospitalization or a stay at a residential treatment center due to their suicidal ideation. Finally, the Toolkit addresses ways to respond immediately after a student’s suicide, as well as in the aftermath.

Signs of Suicide Program

Students in grades 7, 9 and 11 participate in mental health awareness programs such as the “SOS – Signs of Suicide” Prevention Program, which also occasionally involves parents. SOS is a program used in thousands of schools around the U.S. Self-report surveys administered by SOS show that teens who participate in this program are less likely to attempt suicide.

Student-led Clubs

Several schools in San Ramon Valley Unified have started peer-to-peer programs and clubs to teach students how to identify and support their friends who may be at risk or experience mental health difficulties. For example, Danville-area schools participate in clubs such as Bring Change 2 Mind and Sources of Strength.

We’re hopeful these measures will stop the increase in suicide among students in the San Ramon Unified School District, and help the students who report feeling chronically sad and hopeless. The program in Palo Alto showed positive results – and we’re watching San Ramon to see if San Ramon can replicate that success.