Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Paget Hetherington
on March 27, 2023

The number of students with challenging mental health situations is increasing. It continues to be a serious crisis—particularly for teen girls.

  • - Nearly one in three high school girls reported in 2021 that they had seriously considered suicide—up a staggering 60% from ten years ago.
  • - And almost 27% said they had been forced to have sex.
  • - 57% of high school girls experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Student mental health issues were already on the rise before the pandemic. Once the pandemic hit, it got much worse as students went into lockdown. Many students were more isolated throughout the quarantine and not around as many supportive adults as they would be if school was in-person. Immediately, we saw huge increases in all areas of crisis across the board in Gaggle data. There were also large numbers of elementary students who began exhibiting and reporting mental health situations.

The recent CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2021 confirms the incidents and trends that Gaggle reports every day in over 1500 school districts across the country. Gaggle uses a mix of machine learning and human intelligence to monitor student wellness and behavior alerting schools when students are in crisis. The CDC report mirrors what we have been seeing in Gaggle data, although Gaggle does not track demographic information (gender, for example) as does the CDC report.

Both the CDC and Gaggle data confirm that there is a mental health epidemic among students:

Violence Towards Others

CDC: Although experiences of bullying decreased overall from 2011-2021, the percentage of students who missed school because of safety concerns and experienced sexual violence by anyone increased. In 2021, 9% of high school students did not go to school because they felt unsafe either at school or on their way to or from school at least once during the past 30 days. Female students were more likely than males to miss school because of safety concerns. Also in 2021, 7% of high school students were threatened or injured with a weapon, such as a gun or a knife. LGBQ+ students were more likely than their peers to be threatened or injured with a weapon at school.

Gaggle: Echoing the CDC’s findings, the 2021-2022 school year saw the Violence Towards Others incident rate increase by 36.4% compared to the previous school year for a total of 225.95 incidents per 10,000 students (up from 165.6 incidents per 10,000). From July through January this school year (2022-2023), Gaggle has alerted school district partners to 1,267 incidents involving weapons through our new gun detection model.


 CDC: Girls are more likely than boys to be bullied electronically, although 16% of all high school students were electronically bullied in 2021. This can happen through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media. White students are more likely to be bullied than other racial and ethnic groups, although LGBQ+ students and students in same-sex relationships were more likely than their peers to be electronically bullied.

Gaggle: Harassment rates are up 118% YOY from the past two school years (20/21 to 21/22).

Suicide & Self-Harm

CDC: The staggering increase in thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts began pre-pandemic but has continued to increase throughout the pandemic, and now post-pandemic. 42% of high school students reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they could not engage in regular activities for at least two weeks during the previous year—an indication of depression.

There were also increases in the number of students who seriously considered suicide, made a suicide plan, and attempted suicide. Female students were more likely to feel this way than male students. Hispanic and multiracial students were more likely than Asian, Black, and White students to experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

And again, LGBQ+ students were more likely than their peers to experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. With the same race and gender trends as above, 22% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide and 18% of high school students made a suicide plan.

Gaggle: Has seen the same kinds of stats as in the CDC report. The data that Gaggle collects is actionable and has resulted in saving literally thousands of student lives over the last 10+ years. Just in the past two years, Gaggle has discovered:

  • - 903 suicide notes
  • - 156,836 suicide and self-harm actionable incidents in the 2021-2022 school year and
  • - 72,142 this school year through January 2023

It takes a village. We at Gaggle are part of that village. We can help school districts not only determine who is suffering, but with Gaggle Therapy & Coaching, we can offer mental health support too. Additionally, students sometimes just need a kind person to listen to them, to hear them. We have recently launched our Gaggle ReachOut crisis line to do just this.



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