Teen-agers voice pessimism


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Youngsters feel their health is threatened because drugs, alcohol and tobacco are so accessible. Those items plus AIDS and environmental pollution have turned U.S. youngsters into a generation of pessimists who believe they will grow up to be less healthy than adults are today, a study released yesterday shows.

Commissioned by Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. of Minneapolis, the study also concluded that a majority of the 301 children between ages 12 and 18 who were surveyed engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking and using drugs. The surveys were conducted in 12 shopping malls across the country.

Titled "Children's Health at Risk," the study also found that more than 80 percent of the youngsters experience depression and one in six has thought about suicide.

The high level of pessimism "was kind of a eye-opener for us," said Candyce Wisner, project director.

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