Editor’s note: This is part three of a multi-part series on depression, suicide and mental health in youth and how families can address these issues openly and proactively with children.

In 2015, 13.9 percent of Ripon High School (RHS) students reported having attempted suicide at least once in the previous year.

The data were collected anonymously as part of Wisconsin’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), conducted every two years.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the national Centers for Disease Control, use this data to track trends and changes among youth populations.

While Ripon may be a small sample of the overall data, 13.9 percent represents 70 RHS students in 2015.

As suicide-prevention advocate John Halligan said Feb. 15 at RHS, “[A]ny number on these charts above zero is a number too high.”

In all likelihood, when the survey is conducted again this year, the number will remain above zero.

But there are ways to drive that number down. The first step probably is the hardest: asking for help.

“Young people are not unlike adults in that there’s that fear of the unknown,” RHS counselor Jolene Schatzinger said.

Read more about opportunities and initiatives for youth in promoting mental health in the March 9, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.