Sanpete Valley Hospital trained community members who wanted suicide prevention training in September
By Doug Lowe
MT. PLEASANT—As part of their observance of National Suicide Prevention Month, Sanpete Valley Hospital hosted a suicide prevention training program Monday Sept. 16.
Julie Varner, community health improvement specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, and Libbie Hinckley, prevention specialist at Central Utah Counseling Center, put on a training session in the QPR suicide prevention method. “QPR” stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, and is shorthand for how the method operates.
“We want to make sure that people know the signs of someone that has suicidal thoughts,” said Varner, “so that we can get them help.” She went on to say the QPR method is like CPR, in that the person using it is not really an expert, but is providing hope to the person with suicidal thoughts until they receive counseling from an expert.
“We want to create ‘gatekeepers’ who can provide early intervention to people within their own group,” said Varner.
Varner also addressed myths and facts about people with suicidal ideation.
Myth 1: Will asking someone if they are thinking about suicide make it more likely the person will actually try it? “No,” Varner said. “Asking will actually lower the risk that a person may attempt suicide.”
Myth 2: No one can stop someone from taking their own life if they really want to do it. “That is not true, either,” Varner said. “If a person at risk gets help, then it is very likely to prevent a suicide.”
On the other hand, it is true people will communicate their intention to commit suicide, even though their communication may not be immediately apparent. It is also true if a person talks about taking their own life, there is a higher likelihood the person will actually go through with it.
Hinckley spoke to the group about the warning signs of people thinking of suicide. These people will say, “I’m tired of life, I can’t go on,” or “Everyone will be better off without me,” or even, “I’m going to kill myself.”
People thinking of suicide may have attempted suicide before. They may start giving away their possessions. They may have a relapse in to drug use, or have bouts of unexplained anger.
Certain situations may precede thoughts of suicide, such as getting fired or expelled from school; a recent move; loss of a relationship or death of a spouse or close friend; or a diagnosis with a terminal disease.
Hinckley told the group to look for unusual changes in behavior or mood to get a hint of whether a person may be considering suicide.
When asked whether the QPR method should be published, Hinckley said, “I would rather people came in and got the training in person. That way, they can ask any questions they may have, and they can also practice the method where we can help them.”
Central Utah Counseling Center, where Hinckley works, provides training in the QPR method. There are also trained personnel at Sanpete Valley Hospital, Gunnison Valley Hospital and through the Behavioral Health Network at 851-5206. Concerned person are also encouraged to download the SafeUT app to their phones.