Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelors of Science

Degree Name



Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center

Honors College

Farquhar Honors College Thesis

Honors College Dean

Andrea Nevins, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Home College Dean

Holly Baumgartner, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

Christi Navarro, Ph.D., M.S.


Objective: Determining correlations between state level mental and emotional health (M&E) education and suicide prevention (SP) education to suicide-related behaviors (I.e. feeling sad or hopeless, suicide ideation, making a suicide plan, suicide attempt, suicide attempt treated by medical personnel, and death by suicide) within high school adolescents aged 15-19 within the United States in 2019.

Methods: State level education policies, M&E and SP, were retrieved from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Self-reported adolescent suicide related behaviors were retrieved from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). Data on deaths by suicide of youth aged 15-19 years was collected by Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Analysis was conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 28) software. Correlations were run to explore relationships between the five mental health related behaviors, population (overall, sex, and by race/ethnicity), and state level education policies. Independent samples t-test and one-way ANOVA test was computed to compare the mean suicide death rate difference for education policy groups.

Results: An overall downward trend in suicide-related behavior was noticed in all populations studied except for the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) population. NHOPI indicated an increase between making a suicide plan and suicide attempt. Males are seen to have lower suicide-related behaviors, however, between the sexes, males have a three times higher rate of death by suicide as compared to females. Within deaths by suicide by race, the American Indian/ Alaskan Native (AI/AN) population has an alarmingly high rate of death by suicide. States which had M&E or SP education in place had lower rates of deaths by suicide as compared to states which did not have these policies in place. No consistent correlations were found between education policies and their effect on the studied populations.

Conclusion: States with M&E and SP policies have lower deaths by suicide. Providing early intervention, M&E, and SP education to students within schools may help adolescent individuals learn to care for their mental health. Targeted programs to individuals within high-risk groups such as males, AI/AN, and NHOPI individuals, additionally, should be implemented.