Homicide is not the leading cause of death among Utah infants, but suicide has increased significantly among 10-to 14-year-olds in the state.
So reported John E. Brockert, director of the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, in comparing Utah data to a national study by a team of John Hopkins University researchers.The national study, released this week, showed that homicide was the leading cause of injury death among children under age 1, and that suicide among children aged 10 to 14 increased by 112 percent from 1980 to 1985.
Brockert said 1987 data, the most recent year for which Utah figures are available, show there were 14 injury deaths among infants under age 1. Four of the total were homicides, with 10 resulting from accidents.
Brockert said the leading causes of injury deaths among infants under age 1 during 1987 were drownings and suffocation. He said three deaths were caused by mechanical suffocation from material such as a plastic bag being placed over a child's head; three from drownings; and one death resulted from inhalation of food, causing suffocation.
Two infants died during 1987 as a result of motor vehicle accidents, and one died from excessive heat.
Brockert said there were 32 Utah injury deaths during 1987 to youths aged 10 to 14.
The national study showed that suicide increased dramatically from 1980 to 1985. The number of suicides among Utahns 10 to 14 also shows a large jump in the most recent statistics, with seven suicides in 1987.
Among youths aged 10 to 14, there was one suicide each in 1981, 1982 and 1984; two, 1983 and 1986; and three in 1985. In 1987 the figure jumped to seven. But because the numbers are so small in Utah, the large jump in 1987 does not necessarily indicate an increasing trend, Brockert said.
Brockert said that of the 32 injury deaths, 13 died as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Four died from suffocation or drowning, and three of the 32 were homicide victims. The remaining injury deaths were scattered among various other areas.
A separate study, the 1988 National High School Senior Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, found that the use of crack cocaine has declined among high school seniors for the first time.
The study attributed the decline to changing attitudes and increased knowledge about the drug's harmful effects.
Crack is a potent, smokable derivative of cocaine.
The national study showed that even alcohol use dropped for the first time in several years.
Alan C. Sherwood, program coordinator, Utah Division of Substance Abuse, said Tuesday that two separate studies, aimed at determining drug use among youths and adults 18 and over, are or will be under way soon in Utah.
"We are in the process of surveying the vast majority of school districts in Utah through a contract with the Family and Demographic Research Institute at Brigham Young University," Sherwood said.
The latter study, now under way and directed by Stephen J. Bahr, institute director, will probably be completed and at least preliminary data available by July, Sherwood said.
Dan Jones & Associates has received a state division contract to do a study on drug use among adults 18 years of age and older.
That study, which will be conducted soon, will be a broad-based in terms of geographic and demographic information.
While data is still being gathered in the BYU study, Sherwood said state division officials anticipate declines in drug use will also be seen in Utah.
The state division's 1982 Utah Incidence and Prevalence Study surveyed thousands of youths and adults regarding drug use.
Among youths aged 12 to 17, 4.6 percent of those sampled said they had used cocaine. And among those 12 to 17, 1.4 percent said they were regular cocaine users.
Sherwood said a 1982 national study among youths in the same age categories showed 1.8 percent were regular cocaine users and 6.9 percent had used cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
"We believe Utah youths are under the national average among those who have ever used cocaine and slightly under the national average among regular cocaine users," Sherwood said.
He said he believes the new studies among youths will show this because "we have had five years of excellent prevention and education programs in the schools and in our communities."
2 teen suicides bring an alert
Two teenage suicides and one attempt this week in Jordan School District has put school officials on alert.
A crisis intervention team, helping grieving students cope with the deaths, has also been tracking high-risk students since the deaths of two 17-year-old boys, who attended different schools.
The officials' concern is that the deaths may have a domino or copy-cat effect.
Unhappy students or their friends and parents are urged to call 565-RISK, where counselors are available 24 hours a day.