We’re all pretty familiar with CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and how it can save a life by doubling or tripling someone’s chances of survival after cardiac arrest. But are you as familiar with QPR and how it can potentially save a life with suicide prevention? QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer and comes from the QPR Institute (www.qprinstitute.com) whose mission is to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training.
Since the discussion of suicide and its impact is often avoided in our culture, it’s important to know some of the facts. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
• Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the US • In 2020, 45,979 Americans died by suicide • In 2020, there were an estimated 1.20 million suicide attempts
What does QPR stand for?
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, the three simple steps anyone can learn to save a life. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. QPR can be learned in the Gatekeeper course in as little as one hour. You can sign up for the course here (www.qprinstitute.com).
How is QPR like CPR?
Both CPR and QPR are part of systems designed to increase the chance of survival in the event of a crisis. QPR is an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons created in 1995 by Paul Quinnett. An abbreviation for Question, Persuade, and Refer, the intent is also to identify and interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care they need at that time.
How does QPR follow the Chain of Survival?
1. Early recognition of suicide: The sooner warning signs are detected and help sought, the better the outcome of a suicidal crisis will be. QPR helps teach others what those warning signs look like and sound like in others. 2. Early QPR: Asking someone about the presence of suicidal thoughts and feelings opens up a conversation that may lead to a referral for help. QPR trainings helps participants practice and feel comfortable asking this often avoided question. 3. Early intervention and referral: Referral to local resources or calling 1-800-273-TALK for evaluation and possible referral is critical. QPR trainings will often provide local resources to participants for referral resources as well.
Early advanced life support: As with any illness, early detection and treatment results in better outcomes.
I became trained as a QPR instructor when working at a university counseling center as a mental health therapist, and we successfully trained hundreds of students, faculty, and staff to be QPR Gatekeepers. QPR offers people the opportunity to learn and discuss the difficult and often feared topic of suicide in a safe setting. The biggest lesson I learned from my many experiences training others in suicide prevention is that through the simple offering of hope, either through social and/or spiritual support can help save a life. We can do this together by helping others feel that they’re not alone during their darkest times.
For more information about QPR and how to get trained, please visit the QPR Institute at www.qprinstitute.com.