Forensic Nurses and the Prevention of Teen Suicide

by

“A permanent solution to a temporary problem” certainly describes the issue of teen suicide in today’s culture. There are approximately 5,000 teen suicides in the United States annually and is the third leading cause of death among teens.

Teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure these days not only academically, but also from peers. The ability to “perform” at a certain standard is difficult, as well as the feeling to fit in, and the hormonal shifts occurring can cause them to react somewhat irrationally to specific circumstances or situations.

The ratio of male to female suicides is 4:1. Males are generally more successful at committing suicide than females and will choose a more violent manner in which to commit suicide such as using a gun or driving their car at a high rate of speed and crashing into something. It can sometimes be a call for attention, but regardless of whether it is or not, it is important to take a verbal hint or actual gesture of suicide seriously!

Warning signs include giving away of prized possessions, feelings of hopelessness, loss of self-esteem, changes in personality, changes in school performance, and withdraw from family and friends.

Hopefully, these indications will prompt concern and help will be perused early on. It is also important to recognize the significant numbers of teens diagnosed with depression as well as other chemical imbalances.

Ignoring these problems and not treating them with therapy and possible use of medications can be devastating in that they can prompt suicidal gestures..

Regardless of the circumstances behind the hint of possible suicide or an actual gesture, it is crucial to LISTEN!! Take the person seriously and don’t attempt to downplay the situation. Be non-judgmental and show genuine concern for the individual. Do not leave the individual alone until a higher level of care and protection can be provided.

Teen suicide is extremely problematic in our country. Creating an awareness of this in parents as well as teens is very important. Teens need to be informed regarding feelings they may be experiencing and to let an adult know.

In regards to the responsibilities of a forensic nurse in the case of teen
or any other suicide, it would be important to understand patterns seen in
an attempted suicide and recognize that this is what you are actually
dealing with as the person may not volunteer this information.

It is important to protect the individual from further harm and provide care for
any wounds incurred as well as the proper referrals or admission for
observation.

It is important that the individual dealing with this type of circumstance
be empathetic and non-judgemental.

In the case of a successful suicide, it would also be important to recognize
patterns with specifics to the mechanism of injury or other methods used to
committ the suicide (such as an overdose). It may not be clear that the
cause of death and it important for the forensics expert to investigate the
evidence in an attempt to figure out what happened.

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