Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR): A Life-Saving Intervention for Families and Friends of Individuals Who Are Contemplating Suicide
Suicide Prevention Awareness
In 2020, 45,979 Americans died by suicide and 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide. As the twelfth leading cause of death in the United States and second leading cause of death in individuals ages 20-34, suicide awareness and prevention can be integral to saving lives and sparing the ripple effect of heartache in its wake .
Each year in September, during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month special attention is paid to individuals, friends, and families impacted to raise awareness by shifting public perception, spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide, and increase access to the resources needed to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help .
Debunking myths of suicide prevention
With roughly 54% of Americans affected by suicide in some way, an individual’s knowledge of innovative, practical, and proven suicide prevention strategies can make all the difference . As a friend or family member of someone who is at risk for suicide, it can feel daunting to know what to do to be truly helpful.
Unfortunately, some continue to believe that the simple act of “bringing up suicide” will cause their loved one to consider and potentially complete suicide. This unfortunate belief is just one of many myths that serve to increase stigma and allow for individuals to struggle alone rather than in the company of a trusted friend. According to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) Office of Suicide Prevention, “talking about suicide provides the opportunity for communication, and the first step in encouraging a person with thoughts of suicide to live comes from talking about those feelings” .
QPR: CPR for suicide intervention
“Every year over 350 000 Americans experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; most will not survive. Provision of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) improves mortality after cardiac arrest.” -- American Heart Association
Often referred to as the CPR for suicide intervention, Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) is an emergency health intervention for individuals considering suicide that others can learn and apply to “identify and interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care .” This method of suicide prevention is useful not only for medical or helping professionals but for the general public to have a tangible tool for suicide prevention. In fact, QPR training was specifically designed so that anyone can offer hope and take action when they are concerned that someone may be at risk for suicide, creating a space for friends and family to feel empowered and educated on how to make a difference in the life of a loved one who may be at risk .
The power of QPR rests in its simplicity and focus on follow-through, making it easy to learn, retain, and implement as needed.
QPR step by step
Ask your friend or loved one, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It is important to be direct, as using softer terms like “hurt yourself” can leave room for misunderstanding.
Convince your friend or loved one to allow you to assist them in getting help right away. This can mean getting them to agree to see a mental health professional or check themselves into the hospital if the risk is imminent.
Refer your friend or loved one to appropriate resource. Once you have determined risk and convinced your loved one to allow you to support them in getting help, follow through with getting them into the care they agreed to receive .
Surrounding loved ones with the power of community
In a recent survey, 93% of individuals reported believing that suicide is preventable . This belief is evident across the country with numerous organizations that work tirelessly to raise awareness, break stigma, and create access to care for those at risk for suicide and those that love them. Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center (ERC Pathlight) is proud to partner with a number of these organizations to amplify their mission. In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we would like to spotlight just a few of our nonprofit partners who are making an incredible difference in the lives of so many who are impacted by suicide.
Jefferson Center Mental Health.
Mission: To inspire hope, improve lives, and strengthen our community by providing mental health and related solutions for individuals and families.
Second Wind Fund.
Mission: Connecting youth at risk for suicide with life-saving mental health treatment.
Mission: To prevent suicide by erasing the stigma of mental illness and promoting optimal mental wellness.
Mission: Addressing loneliness by encouraging and empowering individuals and partners to connect with others who matter in their lives.
Mission: An uprising of teens to help other teens. We’ve made it our mission to stop the suicide epidemic that’s taking the lives of our friends.
You are not alone
Whether you are struggling in your mental health journey or are supporting a loved one in crisis, know that you are not alone. In addition to nonprofit organizations who work to support awareness and advocacy of suicide prevention are treatment centers that provide care to individuals at risk for suicide. Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center’s virtual treatment options create a space for healing at home. Call today for a free assessment: 866.318.0716.
- 1649682186-14296_afsp_2022_national_fact_sheet_update_m1_v4.pdf (datocms-assets.com)
- Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (SPAM) | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- QPR Institute | Practical and Proven Suicide Prevention Training QPR Institute (en-US)
- The Myths & Facts of Youth Suicide (nv.gov)
- QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention | Suicide Prevention Resource Center (sprc.org)
- National Suicide Prevention Month -September 2022 - National Today