Two close friends of my children committed suicide in the last five years, teenagers who came to my home and hung out. Members of our extended family also have committed suicide. We wonder what we could have done differently.
As nurses, we need to learn the clinical signs, symptoms, and simple ways we can intervene to help those suffering with depression. I urge you to read the article, Teen Depression and Suicide: A Silent Crisis, from Journal of Christian Nursing, April-June 2016. CE credits are available.
“Adolescent depression is a serious problem affecting 30% of high school students, with 17% contemplating suicide,” state Maureen Kroning and Kayla Kroning. “We want to highlight the vital need to speak up early to parents and professionals when a teen displays signs of depression.”
“Nurses are in a unique position to make an impact on teen depression and suicide,” write the authors. “Nurses are trained in assessment and can provide support and education to patients, families, the public and schools to promote protective mechanisms for depression, as well as recognize depression.”
Often adolescents, their friends or their family are worried or embarrassed about having a mental disorder, yet many open up to nurses who can talk about depression and its treatment from a caring, clinical point of view.
It is essential for nurses to know the warning signs of suicide. The article outlines DSM-5 depression criteria and ways to intervene.
“Teens need our attention to make them feel valued, accepted, and secure in the knowledge that people are there to help them,” Kroning writes. “Teens taking their own lives is a tragedy.”
The article concludes, “As a nurse, what might you do to end the silent crisis and save the lives of teens suffering with depression?”
The lives of those around us who are depressed are too precious to ignore. We must intervene.
—Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, RN, PhD
Editor, Journal of Christian Nursing