Suicide Prevention Training Creates Strong Neighborhood Watch

Untitled-1As juniors trained as QPR Gatekeepers January 8 and 9, they learned how to save lives. Every 13.7 minutes, someone in the US commits suicide. The 90 minute training session taught students warning signs of suicide, such as suddenly giving personal items away or sudden mood changes.

 QPR stands for question, persuade and refer.

“Question is just asking the person if they are considering suicide, persuade is to convince the person not to commit suicide, and refer is to get the person to someone who can help, like a counselor,” said junior Amara Baker.

The possibility of students considering or acting on suicidal thoughts is very high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 16% of 9-12 graders in the US said they’d seriously considering suicide. 13 percent said they had created a plan and 8% said they’d tried to take their own life in the 12 months before the survey.

“You are basically creating a neighborhood watch for suicide. You want as many gatekeepers as there are many people who know the signs,” said QPR trainer Jarad Olson.

The hope is that QPR training is an effective way to prevent suicide.

“Students are more apt to know if their friends are troubled or depressed than teachers are because teens will confide in their friends over parents or other adults.  Hopefully, students will learn the warning signs and contact an adult before something terrible happens,” said guidance counselor Sue Leadholm.

Having QPR training at the high school is a way to increase the number of people who can help, which can increase the effectiveness of suicide prevention.

“QPR is only as effective as the number of gatekeepers in your community. If only the high school is trained, then the extent of QPR training goes only to high schoolers. That’s why all teens and adults should be trained. Students should bring their training home,” said Olson.

Olson, who has used QPR personally three different times, feels that QPR could become a very real possibility and could save a life.

“Mr. Erickson and I talk with upset or depressed students each week.  Usually, most students understand that their problems are temporary and they focus on solving their problems.  If students seem too upset or may endanger themselves though, we would involve parents, social services, and possibly the police.  QPR is an effective tool because it reminds everyone that it is important to ask hard questions, and then persuade and contact adults for additional help,” said Leadholm.