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Dec. district newsletter

Parents need to become educated on vaping, drugs, suicide
Dr. Jim Haussler, Superintendent

When I attended the session on Youth Vaping, Drugs and Suicide in November, I was struck with how much I don’t know about what’s happening with kids these days.

Did you know that e-cigarette use among young people has reached “epidemic proportions” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? In North Dakota, a recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly 21% of high school students are using electronic vaping devices compared to 13% nationally. And in Bismarck, from Aug. 23-Oct. 11, officers issued 45 citations to youth for e-cigarette use compared to 35 all last school year.

So what do parents need to know?

  • Nicotine is highly addictive; even vaping liquids claiming 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine, which damages adolescent brain development. 
  • E-cigarettes, like the popular JUUL device, are not easy to spot. Some resemble a small flash drive for a computer. The liquids come in many fruity sweet flavors, so it doesn’t smell like traditional tobacco. 
  • Like other tobacco products, it’s illegal to possess and use under age 18, so students can be cited by law enforcement and receive school penalties like after-school detention or suspension from sports or other activities. 
  • Some vaping devices are used for marijuana use. Other drugs that are increasing in popularity with local students are meth, heroin and fentanyl/opioids.

In the U.S., someone ages 15-24 dies every 90 minutes of suicide. Sadly, youth suicide is the 2nd highest cause of death among ND youth. Studies of suicide attempt survivors show 70% decided to take their lives within 10 minutes of the act. So the best way to prevent suicide is to take away the most common means: lock firearms/ammunition and hide medications. Constantly check your child’s social media for potential bullying, suicidal thoughts, dangerous apps, etc. And teach your child to report to an adult if they hear a student contemplating suicide.

Parent and students should have this number in their cell phones for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. If you think your child is depressed or not acting like normal, ask them directly how they are feeling. Talk about suicide. If you can’t do it, ask a school counselor to do it. Too many of our youth are dying because of the stigma of suicide. Enough is enough.

To see the video of a Vaping, Drugs & Suicide presentation and numerous resources for parents, please go to our website at, under the Parents tab on the gray bar.

Is your personal info current?!
If you move OR get a new cell phone number, etc., always inform your school secretary so she can keep your contact information up to date!