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Happiest states for teenagers

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Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

Happiest states for teenagers

While depression is an issue that has been plaguing Americans of all ages for centuries, it has begun to impact more young people in recent years. Rates of depression amongst children between the ages of 12 and 17 rose to 12.7% in 2015, a whopping 46% increase over the 8.7% rate 10 years before that. It can be difficult to identify what causes a person to develop depression, especially in the case of adolescents, who face a high volume of pressure, particularly navigating the academic and social difficulties of school.

Psychologists point to the fact that one of the biggest influencers of a person’s happiness is where they live. The varied population densities, quality of high schools, and access to extracurricular activities offered in a state can all impact a teenager’s experience while growing up. 

Using data from Table 30 of the 20152016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as well as the latest report from Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), Stacker analyzed the states with the happiest teenagers. The 50 states and the District of Columbia were assessed according to a selection of survey responses in the following order of importance. Note: States were ranked according to their comparative responses to question #1, and in the event of a tie, those states in question were compared in regard to question #2, and so on.

  1. Percentage of adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year
  2. Percentage of adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks
  3. Percentage of high school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide
  4. Percentage of high school students who report they attempted suicide one or more time
  5. Percentage of high school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt

Read on to find out how happy teens are in your state and how that compares to the nation at large.

Click here to see the most and least educated states in America.

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Bonnie Moreland // Flickr

#51. Oregon

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 16%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: N/A
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: N/A
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: N/A
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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BLM Nevada // Flickr

#50. Nevada

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 16%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 36%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#49. Idaho

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 16%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 35%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 22%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#48. Alaska

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 15%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 36%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 23%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 12%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Jeff Gunn // Flickr

#47. Wyoming

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 15%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 31%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 20%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 11%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Alfred Essa // Flickr

#46. Colorado

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 15%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 31%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Michael Matti // Flickr

#45. Indiana

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 15%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 20%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Jeff Hollett // Flickr

#44. Utah

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 33%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 22%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Geoff Gallice // Wikimedia Commons

#43. West Virginia

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 32%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 18%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Alex Butterfield // Flickr

#42. Oklahoma

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 32%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 19%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 11%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Loco Steve // Flickr

#41. Montana

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 31%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 21%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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U.S. Department of the Interior // Flickr

#40. Missouri

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 31%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 21%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Peter Rintels // Flickr

#39. Rhode Island

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Carl Wycoff // Flickr

#38. Iowa

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 20%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Ken Lund // Flickr

#37. Wisconsin

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

#36. Massachusetts

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 12%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 5%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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liz west // Flickr

#35. Maine

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Mike // Flickr

#34. Ohio

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 14%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 26%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 6%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 1%

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IIP Photo Archive // Flickr

#33. Washington

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: N/A
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: N/A
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: N/A
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Tony Webster // Flickr

#32. Minnesota

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: N/A
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: N/A
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: N/A
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#31. Arkansas

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 40%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 23%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 16%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 7%

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Joe Ross // Flickr

#30. Michigan

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 37%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 21%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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a4gpa // Flickr

#29. New Mexico

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 36%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 18%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#28. California

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 32%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Nicolas Raymond // Flickr

#27. Virginia

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 30%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Nicolas Raymond // Flickr

#26. Maryland

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 30%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: N/A
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Brendan Dolan-Gavitt // Flickr

#25. New Hampshire

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 28%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 6%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Giuseppe Milo // Flickr

#24. Florida

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 28%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Jeffrey Beall // Flickr

#23. Nebraska

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Connecticut

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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James Watkins // Flickr

#21. Kansas

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 13%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 25%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Adam Jones // Flickr

#20. Arizona

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 36%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 19%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 11%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 5%

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Stuart Seeger // Flickr

#19. Texas

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 34%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 18%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 12%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 5%

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Tom Shockey // Flickr

#18. Illinois

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 32%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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AmeriGirlUK // Flickr

#17. Tennessee

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 31%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

#16. New York

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 30%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Alexander Day // Flickr

#15. Pennsylvania

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 15%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Ken Lund // Flickr

#14. North Carolina

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region // Flickr

#13. Kentucky

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 15%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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Martin Alonso // Flickr

#12. Delaware

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 28%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 7%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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angela n. // Flickr

#11. Vermont

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 25%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: N/A
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 5%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Sharon Mollerus // Flickr

#10. South Dakota

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 12%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 25%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 8%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Tim Gage // Flickr

#9. South Carolina

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 11%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 33%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 19%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 11%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Andrew Filer // Flickr

#8. North Dakota

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 11%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 13%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Visit Mississippi // Flickr

#7. Mississippi

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 11%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 17%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 13%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 6%

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Anthony Quintano // Flickr

#6. Hawaii

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 11%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 2%

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Andy Montgomery // Flickr

#5. Alabama

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 11%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 18%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 11%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 4%

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Michael McCarthy // Flickr

#4. Louisiana

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 10%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 32%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 18%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 17%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 8%

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Ken Lund // Flickr

#3. New Jersey

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 10%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 29%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 10%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: N/A

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Tim Parkinson // Flickr

#2. Georgia

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 10%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 28%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 14%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 9%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 3%

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USCapitol // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Washington, D.C.

Adolescents who had at least one major depressive episode in a single year: 10%
Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless for a period of at least two weeks: 27%
High school students who report they seriously considered attempting suicide: 16%
High school students who report they attempted suicide one or more times: 16%
High school students who report they had to be treated by a doctor or nurse due to a suicide attempt: 7%

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