ELYRIA — The weekend’s suicide prevention events ended with a training course teaching residents the signs and basic procedures to save a life.
The Lorain County Board of Mental Health held a Question Persuade Refer, or QPR, class Sunday afternoon at Second Baptist Church in Elyria, with the talk presented by the board’s director of communications and community relations, Clare Rosser.
“The QPR training is actually a basic suicide prevention class,” Rosser explained. “It’s about 90 minutes and people learn myths about suicide, facts about suicide, they learn different things that people may be saying, doing or experiencing that indicate that they’re at risk for suicide — but the most important thing about it is that they leave the class confident about how to have a tough conversation.”
The class broke down myths and stigma surrounding suicide, depression and other mental health issues while giving participants a kind of script to check on those around them they suspect to be struggling.
Question, according to Rosser, is very direct. It encourages participants to ask someone if they are thinking of killing themselves, overcoming any fear that asking about suicidal thoughts could lead someone to attempt to harm themselves.
“There’s a lot of fear in asking that question because people wonder if they’re going to make things worse, people wonder if it’s going to cause someone to have those thoughts — that’s not how it works. If they’re already contemplating suicide, you are not going to do any harm by asking that question. In fact, you could save a life.”
Then, participants learned how to persuade someone to stay alive and refer them to professional help.
“So it’s that three-step process that really just builds your confidence in being able to interact with someone that you think is struggling,” she said. “The signs of suicide can be very hidden, these trainings that we do through the Board of Mental Health really reveal to people what the signs are, even when they’re kind of hidden and have to be decoded and help people connect in to the resources we have locally.”
Across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a rise in suicide rates between 1999 and 2016 — regardless of a person’s age, gender, race or ethnicity. In Ohio, the suicide rate jumped 36 percent.
The Lorain County Board of Mental Health began offering QPR training in February, and since then has taught more than 400 people during roughly 15 sessions. It started out as a privately requested course, but the board has since begun offering public sessions to meet demand.
“We brought it to this community because we have a history of offering a lot of really good trainings like mental health first-aid and applied suicide-intervention skills training, the ASIST, but sometimes people just want the introduction, they just want the basics and this allows us to go out to any church, any workplace, any civic group, any group of people in Lorain County that request it, they can receive that in their location they can get the basics on suicide prevention. From there they can decide if they want to do a deeper level of education through some of our other courses, but this at least gives everybody a basic introduction and confidence to intervene when someone is struggling.”
With September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, suicide prevention is in the spotlight — but it’s something that can happen any time, Rosser said.
“We’re brave enough to watch out for each other, we just need to know how to do it,” she said.