TORONTO, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers warn gambling is a growing problem among children and teens and linked to higher suicide risks.
Researchers at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto find nearly half of Ontario students report gambling with almost 3 percent indicating a gambling problem, or about 29,000 students.
The 29,000 Ontario students in grades 7-12 demonstrate behaviors that indicate they are gambling problematically. Two-thirds of these students have problems with drugs and/or alcohol and one-quarter attempt to kill themselves within the year, the study says.
Delinquent behavior -- common in gambling students -- included theft and selling drugs. The problem gambling group was 11 times more likely to report gang involvement and carrying a handgun, the researchers say.
"We also found that students who reported problem gambling indicators also reported high rates of elevated psychological distress and other potentially dangerous behaviors," principle investigator Dr. Robert Mann says in a statement.
Mann and colleagues monitored trends in a sample of 9,000 students across the province of Ontario. The most commonly reported activities among students were betting on card games and purchasing lottery tickets. Least common were Internet gambling and casino gambling.