Suicide is one of the most complex of human behaviors. It is also one of the most difficult things for people to talk about. Yet teachers, coaches and school administrators, police officers, librarians, religious leaders, and many others may find themselves in a situation in which it is necessary to have those difficult conversations. It is in fact these “front-line” personnel who may make all the difference for preventing suicide simply by listening and questioning. QPR training teaches you how.
Research suggests that the survival rate of individuals experiencing a heart attack is higher in places where the public, regular civilians, have been trained in CPR (QPR Institute, 2016). Those who witness someone having a potentially life-threatening heart attack can help save that person’s life if they have been trained in CPR.
It is not a coincidence that QPR sounds like CPR. Dr. Paul Quinnett, founder of the QPR Institute, conceived of the acronym to draw attention to a life-saving strategy for those contemplating suicide or those who are stressed to their limit. QPR stands for Q: Question, P: Persuade, R: Refer. Utilizing QPR to intervene in a mental health crisis, just as CPR is used in a physical crisis, could save a life! Importantly, QPR is not a form of treatment or a replacement for mental health counseling. Instead, it is a strategy a “gatekeeper” can use to help save a life. According to QPR teaching, a gatekeeper is a person who may be able to identify possible warning signs that someone is considering suicide.
You may be concerned that talking about suicide to someone may in fact cause a person to think about or consider suicide. This is a common myth that is simply not true. We cannot make someone think about suicide. QPR instructors like to say, “A person is either thinking about suicide, or they are not.” Trained QPR gatekeepers can make all the difference by allowing for time and creating a space for someone to talk about what they are feeling and experiencing without concern of judgement.
We offer QPR training through Outreach Teen & Family Services. Outreach is a community counseling agency offering services to young people (children, teens and emerging adults). We provide training to numerous institutions and organizations including schools, universities, libraries, first responders and community centers. The training provides you with the language and tools you may need to help someone in distress and works to break down the barriers people often encounter when talking about suicide.
Please contact our program manager, Maggie Zangara, to set up the training. Call us at 412-561-5405 or visit our website, www.outreachteen.org, to access a video about this program, as well as for more information about other services we provide.
Please note that Outreach does not offer crisis services or response and does not have evening and weekend on-call coverage. In an emergency please go to your local emergency room or call RESOLVE at 1- 888-796-8226.
Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families in a welcoming environment.
412-561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.