Summit County Health Department is offering a training to help residents know how to respond when they worry someone might be contemplating suicide. The trainings are tonight at 6:00 at the Park City Library and tomorrow at the monthly lunch and learn at the MARC.
QPR Stands for Question, Persuade Refer. Summit County Health Department Educator Alyssa Mitchell says that it’s referenced as the CPR of mental health.
“CPR you do chest compressions to help a person survive till help can arrive. The same idea is with QPR with mental health. We help somebody get through their mental health crisis long enough for them to go and seek help or get them to a safe place.”
Mitchell says that anyone over the age of 13 can attend the meeting, but it should be of particular interest for parents of teenagers.
“Our youth are at a high risk here in Utah. Suicide is the number one cause of death for 10-17-year olds. So, parents with youth in that age range or even younger please come and learn about how to recognize these warning signs and how to start having a conversation about this now with their youth. So that if their youth are struggling later on they feel comfortable to come and talk to their parents about it”
The first step in QPR is to ask the person questions to find out if the person you’re concerned about is considering suicide.
“There’s a couple different ways you can ask the question. There’s less direct or a very direct approach. What we generally recommend is if you’re going to ask the question tell somebody ‘Look, I’ve noticed this change in you lately, this is very concerning to me, I need to know are you thinking of suicide?’ Asking the question in an open heartfelt way to make the person feel comfortable and willing to open up to you. It may take a couple of tries. We do say sometimes people are reluctant to talk about it because of the stigma surrounding suicide. So being persistent and continuing to help people who we think are struggling is a really important piece.”
The next step is to persuade a person that they are cared about.
“Making statements like, ‘I want you to live.’ ‘I care about you.’ ‘Tell me more about what’s going on.’ All of these are great ways to help people realize that there is someone out there who cares about them. So many times, people going through suicidal thoughts or ideation feel very alone. They’re afraid to talk to somebody about it but they don’t actually want to die. So, if you are willing to ask the question and have this conversation and persuade them and show them that they are cared about and loved about, they’re more likely to go seek help.”
The final step is to refer the person to the help they need. Mitchell says the training will have referral cards with summit county resources as well as information about the Safe Utah app.
Those who attend will receive a QPR booklet, have the opportunity to practice, and ask questions after the presentation.
“QPR is one of the only CDC recommended suicide prevention programs. The feedback that we get when we follow-up with individuals who allow us to follow-up, most people say I never thought I’d use this in a million years and here I just used it the other day with my neighbor or with my daughter or with somebody else. It is extremely effective. If there’s any nervousness about asking the question or coming to this training, we try and help dispel some of the myths that surround suicide and some of the stigma that surrounds it. We’ll help people build those skills so that they feel more confident in having this conversation.”