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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Understanding Depression

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  • Students will explore the issue of depression
  • Students will examine how to respond to someone who is depressed
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the causes and symptoms of depression and how it is treated. Also, students will examine how to respond to someone who is depressed or expressing suicidal thoughts.


Point out to students that, during our lives, we all experience sadness, anger or stress. These feelings usually go away in time as situations resolve. However, in some cases, people experience feelings of sadness or hopelessness that they just can't shake. This is known as depression, and it can affect children as well as adults. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time." Refer students to multimedia resources, including the Web sites listed, to learn more about the following aspects of depression:

  1. its causes,
  2. its symptoms,
  3. the potential connection between depression and suicidal thoughts,
  4. how depression is treated,
  5. ways to prevent it,
  6. how it can impact a person's life and the lives of those around the depressed person, and
  7. how to respond to someone who is depressed.

Have students share their research findings in class. Then, group students and have each group write an open-ended vignette that depicts a young person struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. Instruct each group to perform its vignette for the class. After each performance, have group members facilitate a brainstorming session with the rest of the class to come up with different endings for the vignette. The endings should examine both the potential positive and negative outcomes for the lead character and those close to the character.

Correlated Standards


Standard 1. Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information

Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

Benchmark 5. Knows situations that require professional health services in the areas of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation

Standard 3. Understands the relationship of family health to individual health

Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

Benchmark 1. Understands methods to facilitate the transition from the role of a child to the role of an independent adult in the family

Standard 4. Knows how to maintain mental and emotional health

Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

Benchmark 2. Knows strategies for coping with and overcoming feelings of rejection, social isolation, and other forms of stress

Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (, 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.


depression, causes, symptoms, treatment, suicide, sadness, hopelessness, vignette E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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