Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Severe depression

As many have already heard, Jarrid Wilson committed suicide. Wilson was a 30 year old pastor in California who apparently had a lifelong struggle with depression.

In the relatively recent past, there have been other young evangelical Christians who have committed suicide as well. For example, Rick Warren's son Matthew shot and killed himself at age 27 in 2013. Also another pastor in California named Andrew Stoecklein took his own life at age 30.

I don't wish to comment on the ethics of suicide at this moment. Besides, other Christians like Steve have commented on suicide in the past and said far more intelligent and helpful things than I ever could.

Rather I'll just offer a useful screening tool for people who suspect they might be depressed or know those whom they suspect might be depressed. Not that all suicide attempts and suicides are necessarily related to depression but the majority are related to severe depression.

In any case, the "tool" is simply a series of questions that physicians (such as psychiatrists) will ask a person whom they suspect might be depressed to help determine if they are depressed and, if so, the severity of their depression. If they are severely depressed, as opposed to mild or moderate depression, it could mean they're at risk of suicide.

It's taken from a British book called the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties (10th ed.), p 345:

We use a similar but not as memorable mnemonic in the US. They're different mnemonics but the same ideas or concepts underlie both.

You can click on both images to enlarge if need be.

For example, a physician will ask a person how many hours they're sleeping each night, how often, if they're tossing and turning or able to sleep right away. What they find enjoyable (e.g. reading books, watching movies, listening to music, taking walks on the beach) and how frequently they do these things. If they feel embarrassed or guilty of anything. How they feel when they're awake. If they're chronically tired. How well they can concentrate on small, medium, and big tasks. If they're under or over eating. How they're functioning at work and play. If they have made any well formulated plans to commit suicide.

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