Ask A Question… Save A Life
by Trevor Addison, MS, ATC
This month, we’d like to talk about a heavy, but important topic: Suicide prevention. It’s a difficult subject for many of us. As Injury Prevention Specialists, we’ve seen time and again the community and support that helps with healing of physical aches and pains. This is true for mental health as well, except suddenly nobody wants to talk anymore. Many others are uncomfortable listening. Depression and suicidal ideology flourish in silence.
According to the CDC, there were 48,183 deaths caused by suicide in 2021. That’s one every 11 minutes. The better news is we ALL can help reduce these staggering statistics.
What Is QPR?
Kinda sounds like CPR, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Think of QPR like the CPR of suicide prevention. Let’s outline some basics.
Question. Our best defense against suicide is early recognition. If anyone in your life seems off or different than they usually are, ask them about it. Ask if they’re okay. Explain why you might be asking. Make sure they know they can talk to you.
Now here’s the hard part (and you’ll need to practice this part): ask directly and bluntly, “Are you considering suicide?” Most of us struggle tremendously with this question, but it’s an incredibly powerful, life-saving tool. Most people considering suicide will answer this question honestly, and if they’re not considering it, you mentioning it won’t change that. This question can be the difference between life and death. No matter how difficult or awkward it may seem, ask.
Persuade. If they’re comfortable enough to confide in you, first of all, thank them. It’s not easy to do. Now we want to persuade them in a few ways:
- Talk to them about self-care. Explore what sorts of activities they enjoy or helps them to decompress.
- Talk to them about their support system like family and friends, and encourage them to reach out and feel comfortable saying they need help.
- Encourage them to make a crisis plan that includes recognizing their triggers and what they should do when in crisis.
- Finally, try to set up a scheduled time to check in with them and DON’T MISS IT!
Refer. If they’re actively in crisis, have them call 988, or call it for them if needed. Treat this as a medical emergency. If they aren’t in crisis, remember we still want to refer them. We can open the conversation and get them professional help. This might be just getting them resources or contact information, or even calling and setting up an appointment for them.
You can join the fight against suicide! You can go to qprinstitute.com if you’d like to learn more and get QPR trained!