OHSU'S THINK FIRST Program Targets Prevention of Teen Violence and Other Risky Behaviors

03/06/01    Portland, Ore.

Following Monday's school shooting in San Diego, OHSU's THINK FIRST program reminds parents and teens of the importance of communication. According to a 1997 report printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a feeling of connectedness at school and at home greatly reduces the chances a teenager will take part in risky behaviors including violence, suicide, smoking and alcohol abuse.

The THINK FIRST Oregon program located at Oregon Health Science University provides Oregon schools with interactive programs aimed at reducing the incidence of brain and spinal cord injuries. According to program director Edward Neuwelt, M.D., a professor of neurology in OHSU's School of Medicine, many Oregon students feel disconnected and unsafe in school. "Last year we hosted a statewide intentional injury prevention conference for teens. During that conference about 75 percent of students claimed that they knew of a classmate who had brought a gun to school."

Here are some additional figures regarding violent and risky behavior in Oregon teens:


  • In 1999 14 percent of students admitted to carrying a weapon to school in the previous 30 days. Four percent admitted to carrying a gun to school in the previous 30 days.
  • In 1997 the third leading cause of death among Oregon 15-24 year olds was homicide.
  • Between 1988 and 1995 the number of car crash deaths steadily declined while the number of firearm deaths steadily increased.
  • Forty seven male 15 to 24-year-olds committed suicide in 1997 in Oregon; 76.6 percent used a handgun to commit the act.

Editors: Contact Jim Newman in University News and Publications at 503 494-8231 if you are interested in speaking with a THINK FIRST representative.