- Photo courtesy of humboldtgov.org

What would you do if you noticed a family member or close friend behaving differently? Maybe the behavior is not the kind you want to see. Maybe this person hasn’t been coming around much or cut off all communication. Maybe you had a conversation with them that was alarming.

It’s important to know how to best handle a situation like this, and with Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training offered through Healthy Campus Initiatives, you can learn just how to approach this in the right way.

Suicide prevention is something that Healthy Campus Initiatives (HCI) has focused on since 2011 when it was first developed. Since January, HCI has been putting on more events, one being QPR training.

QPR is a program developed by the QPR Institute, which was established as an independent organization in 1999. There are currently six trainers on hand who provide certified QPR training at Rowan.

Allie Pearce, the assistant director of HCI, said that though there are a limited number of certified trainers at Rowan, talking about suicide and working to prevent it is important for the community.

“We want people to be empowered to have these conversations,” Pearce said. “We know that it’s scary. We know that it’s really terrifying to have this talk. We want students to know what to look out for in their friends, and we want faculty and staff to notice what to look out for in students, so that we are prepared to be able to get people help when they need help.”

HCI also provides resources like RU a Lifesaver? which aims to help students know what to do in case a friend or family member is feeling suicidal. When you call the number provided, a counselor will be waiting to speak. Offering support and compassion to someone who is feeling suicidal will open the door for conversation and help that person tremendously.

At the end of the interactive training session, a booklet titled “Ask a Question, Save a Life” by Dr. Paul Quinnett, the founder of the QPR Institute, was distributed. It provides the tools needed to handle suicide prevention, how to become aware of the signs and how to best approach the subject.

How can you make a difference in someone’s life?

If you are nervous about asking someone if they are suicidal or thinking about suicide, try to ask them in a private setting and acknowledge their distress. You can directly approach the conversation or ease into it by asking simple questions.

If someone tells you they are suicidal, listen to them and give them your full attention. Try not to interrupt or judge them for what they may say. Once the conversation is over, try and persuade this person to get help. Maybe you can go to an appointment to see a counselor with them.

If they don’t want to go see a counselor, talk to them about recommitting to life. Let this person know they have so much to live for and that there is hope.

Don’t be afraid to approach the subject. If someone you know is feeling suicidal, let them know they are here for a reason and to never give up because their life is worth every second.

Other campus resources for those struggling with mental health include Rowan THRIVE, accommodations for those with documented disabilities, the nonprofit student-run awareness organization Active Minds, and new initiatives to prioritize student wellbeing.

The next QPR training will be held on March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in CSC 127. To attend, students may either sign up on ProfLink or walk in the day of.

If you are struggling, you can speak with a counselor at the Wellness Center at 856-256-4333. They also have 24/7 counseling at 856-256-4922.

If you are in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), available 24/7.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to show when the next QPR training will take place.

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