When an epidemic hits, nurses are often in the front line with education, hands-on care, and resources. Now, as death by suicide is at epidemic levels, nurses have a significant role in prevention and awareness. As Christians, we also have Christ’s compassion and mercy toward individuals who are struggling, suffering and possibly feeling isolated.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.
- The elderly—those over 85--are right behind the young age group in the rate of suicide.
- Military veterans are at higher risk than the general population for death by suicide.
In a June 2015 issue of American Nurse Today, Ann Hutton, PhD, APRN, offered these tips:
- Take all threats or suicide attempts seriously and convey concern.
- Emphasize a relationship alliance; developing rapport for the patient increases willingness to talk about suicide.
- Look for warning signs and discuss them with the patient.
- Collaborate with colleagues and patient for safety plan, including how to cope with negative thoughts and anxiety.
- With permission, call supportive family members/friends.
- Have access to referral resources such as emergency phone contacts; call 911 if a patient in the community is agitated or seems in imminent danger of self-harm.
- Document assessment of risk, with rationale for interventions.
Hutton, A. (2015). Saving lives by preventing suicide. American Nurse Today, 10(6), 48-57.
Gain more knowledge by reading Teen Depression and Suicide: A Silent Crisis in the Journal of Christian Nursing. It’s free this week. The article includes an insightful personal narrative of a teen whose close friend died by suicide.
The free Suicide Safe app from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) equips health providers with education and support resources to assess a patient's risk of suicide, communicate effectively with patients and families, determine appropriate next steps, and make referrals to treatment and community resources.
Other NCF/IVCF resources:
Grieving a Suicide, an eBook about the compassion needed when someone experiences death by suicide. Includes a discussion guide.
Good Grief: Living with Dying, an article on providing and accepting spiritual care.