Take all signs of suicide seriously

Partners Post, January 2016

Nobody likes to think about young people taking their lives, but suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24.

The good news is that there is a technique much like CPR for people of all ages who are considering suicide.

It's known as QPR — short for Question, Persuade, and Refer.

QPR: Question, Persuade, and Refer

Stephanie Warshaw, a school social worker and home and school visitor in the Council Rock School District, trains school professionals in QPR. She said it is a tool that anyone can use to intervene in a crisis situation and get a child help. Here's how it works:

Question: Warshaw said the first step is to take any sign of suicide seriously and ask a child about it if you suspect something. The question should be very direct, such as "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" or "Are you thinking about suicide?"

"If it has crossed your mind, then it has probably crossed theirs," she said.

Persuade: If the answer to that question is yes, then the next step is to persuade the child to get help. During this step in the process, you should stay with the child at all times and listen.

"Listening is the best way to convince somebody to really take that next step," Warshaw said.

Refer: Once you have persuaded the child to get help, the next step is to connect the child with a school counselor or social worker or a crisis resource in your community.

QPR is not meant to be counseling, Warshaw said. It's about identifying when a person is in crisis and connecting that person to the appropriate help.

To be fully versed in the QPR technique, experts recommend taking part in a training opportunity. Individuals can take an online training for a small fee at www.qprinstitute.com.

For more on this topic, see Partners for Public Education's updated handout, "Suicide Prevention: Getting children the help they need."


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