Date of this version


Document Type



student nurse; suicide; suicide education; teaching strategies; phenomenology; hermeneutics; interpretive research


Suicide is a worldwide public health problem. Although preparing nursing students to care for suicidal persons has been a standard part of nursing education for many years, nurses consistently report that they lack competencies in caring for this population of patients. The purpose of this phenomenological and hermeneutical study was to understand the experiences undergraduate nursing students had in regard to caring for suicidal persons. The aim of the study was to obtain insights into the basic preparation of students in the care of suicidal persons to inform pedagogical approaches pertaining to suicide and improve the nursing care for these individuals. Twelve senior nursing students were recruited for the study. Data were collected using in-depth, unstructured interviews. The study themes indicated that (a) when participants read about suicidal persons' mental status and behavior in patient, records they initially feared interacting with and caring for these individuals; (b) participants' abilities to gather information about suicide risk was influenced by how much patients talked with them about their suicidal tendencies; and (c) participants' capacity to provide safe and therapeutic suicide prevention interventions was impacted by judicious critical thinking skills. Teaching strategies that align with the themes are provided.


DOI: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2014.03.003

Published in

Journal of Professional Nursing

Citation/Other Information

Scheckel, M., & Nelson, K. (2014). An interpretive study of nursing students’ experiences of caring for suicidal persons. Journal of Professional Nursing, 30, 426-435. doi: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2014.03.003