When the Youth Task Force began 15 years ago, programs for teens and children struggling with substance abuse on Martha’s Vineyard were scarce.


High school administrators on the Vineyard are joining educators across the country in voicing concern over what they’re calling an epidemic.


Citing a community effort to counter teenage drinking, the Youth Task Force announced last week that a youth behavior survey shows a decrease in alcohol use by Island teens, though the rates are slightly higher than the national average.

But they also cited concern about a rise in marijuana use, saying that the legalization of marijuana has contributed to increased use by teenagers.


Statistics may not always be reliable, but the writing on the wall seemed pretty legible: many teenagers are having a hard time on the Island. This year’s Island-wide youth survey showed a spike in the number of students who said they attempted suicide in the last year and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital records showed a spike in the number of teens admitted for attempting suicide this year.

In the last year and a half, about 16 youths (people 19 years old or younger) were admitted to Martha's Vineyard Hospital for attempted suicide, according to hospital data recently acquired by the Gazette. In the year-and-a-half prior to that, seven youths were admitted for attempted suicide.

Of the 16 attempted suicides by youths in this past year and a half, 14 occurred between January and May of this year.

Study Released by Youth Task Force Shows Drinking Remains Prevalent, but Fewer Teens Smoke Cigarettes

Survey results released this week about risky behavior among Island middle school and high school students reveal few surprises about drug and alcohol use.