Prevention and management of crisis in the workplaces or at home is a complex process that requires ethical and legal considerations when addressing various issues. In case study, suffering from depression, Julie is an eighth grade student at South Middle School and she has developed suicidal feelings.
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At school, Julie is angry and outbursts during math class, which prompts her teacher to refer her to school psychologist, Dr. Lee for examination. Critical examination by Dr.
Lee shows that Julie has been suffering from depression in silence from bullying. Other girls in the school have been bullying Julie because she is overweight and obese, making her to stay in isolation and depression. Further probing by Dr. Lee reveals that Julie is nurturing suicidal feelings and is contemplating suicide.
Julie confesses that she does not only want to commit suicide, but also kill one or two of the girls who have been bullying her as revenge. Even though Dr. Lee counsels and convinces her to sign a contract that shows that she will not commit suicide, she declines.
In the light of this knowledge, what are the ethical and legal considerations that surround the case study, and appropriate intervention strategies?
The case of Julie has ethical considerations since Dr. Lee is in an ethical dilemma on how to address the issue of depression and suicidal attitude. Julie has confessed that she is going to kill her friends and commit suicide, yet she has declined to sign a contract to indicate that she has recanted avenging and committing suicide.
Dr. Lee is in dilemma whether to compel her to sign the contract so that she might change her mind or leave her to go but in fear that she may avenge and commit suicide. Bernard (2009) argues that, it is unethical for employees, family care providers, and volunteers to mishandle or maltreat a person who is receiving certain services through their actions or inactions (p.4).
Thus, Dr. Lee has to delicately balance between his action and inaction strategies of saving the life of Julie and other girls. Moreover, it is ethical for Dr. Lee to keep Julie’s information regarding suicide and revenge confidentially to avoid unnecessary commotion in the school.
The case study also has legal perspective because Dr. Lee is dealing with a medical issue as well as a crime issue. In medical aspect, Dr. Lee is responsible for counseling Julie by taking her through the appropriate psychotherapy procedures to enable her cope with the depression and alleviate suicidal feelings in her.
In legal aspect, Dr. Lee is struggling to ensure that Julie certifies by signing that she will not avenge or commit suicide lest he is accused for negligence when Julie decides to go ahead with her mission.
Holzgrefe and Keohane (2003) argue that, legal intervention of issues is comprehensive and effective because it leaves both the perpetrator and the victim satisfied no matter the outcome of resolutions since justice prevails (p.56).
In this instance, Dr. Lee is in dilemma whether to undertake legal intervention or not, because Julie has declined to sign a contract to demonstrate that she is no longer going to avenge and commit suicide.
Given that overweight and obesity coupled with bullying experiences predispose Julie to depression and subsequent suicidal feelings, it is imperative that interventions strategies target school environment.
With this information, as a crisis worker, I would recommend students to receive counseling concerning bullying and stress management so that they can cope with distressing circumstances.
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Brown (2005) argues that, if depression is a predisposing factor to development of suicidal behaviors, treatment of depression will effectively prevent recurrence of the suicidal feelings (p.8). Moreover, it is ethical to notify the school administration about Julie’s condition to put up appropriate measures to mitigate bullying in school.
Legally, since Julie declines to sign a contract showing that she has recanted avenging and committing suicide, it is appropriate to undertake legal interventions by notifying police so that incase there is a crisis, no one will carry blame for negligence.
Bernard, C. (2009). Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention. Crisis Intervention Programs, 1-33.
Brown, G. (2005). Intervention Strategies for Preventing Suicide. Journal of the American Medical Association, 4(9), 1-13.
Holzgrefe, J., & Keohane, R. (2003). Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.