What Parents Need to Know About Suicide – Part Two

by | Aug 12, 2013 | what you can do

006This is part two outlining the QPR steps that anyone can learn to help prevent a suicide. What is the number one cause of suicidal behavior? Untreated depression. When discovered, it is highly treatable. Complicating factors arise when a person seeks relief by self medicating with alcohol (a depressant) or drugs.  As odd as it sounds, research shows that “once someone decides to end their life, the hours before death are often filled with a kind of chipperness, even blissful calm. This change in mood is a good time to apply QPR.” (qpr institute)  Who needs to know this technique? Everyone, not just concerned parents. I encourage you to share this information with your friends. Let’s spread the word and save lives.

Here is a quick overview of the three steps of QPR:

Question – a person about suicide

Persuade – the person to get help and,

Refer – the person to the appropriate resource

The first step of asking “the question” requires a lot of courage. If you just can’t bring yourself to do it, then find someone who can. If in doubt don’t wait, don’t delay.  QPR works because it’s designed to interrupt the terrible journey from thinking about suicide to acting on it. According to Dr. Quinett, creator of QPR, the warning signs described in my last blog are often given during the week preceding an attempt. Therefore, it’s vital to overcome any reluctance to follow this process as soon as you see any red flags.

How to Question Plan a time and place to ask the “S” question. Try to have some privacy and be alone with the person. It may take up to an hour, so allow yourself time. Many people who have just been asked this question need to talk. Having good listening skills will be a huge plus. Don’t be too quick to fix them, just listen and empathize. They need to be heard and know that someone cares.
First acknowledge the person’s distress: “Have you been unhappy lately? Have you been very unhappy lately? Have you been so very unhappy you wished you were dead?” OR “Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?” OR “You know, when people are as upset as you seem to be, they sometimes wish they were dead. I’m wondering if you’re feeling that way, too?”

If you’re still not sure, then be more direct : “Have you ever wanted to stop living?” OR “You look pretty miserable. Are you thinking of killing yourself?” OR “I’m wondering if you are thinking about suicide?” If these don’t sound like you, then rephrase it to what works for you. Practicing will help, too. If someone just said something to you in a conversation that alarms you  like, “I can’t take it anymore” OR “I’m done”, you could ask them the question immediately (in private) – “What you just said concerns me. Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

Asking the question is the MOST IMPORTANT step in QPR. It’s definitely the hardest, but the most helpful.

Once you ask the question and they say, “yes”, go on to the next step – persuade.

Remember, just being asked the question brings relief, NOT distress contrary to what you may have thought. Dr. Quinnet’s research has shown that a person’s anxiety decreases and their hope increases. “A chance to go on living has been offered. It is almost as if, by asking the “S” question we provide a ray of light where there has been utter darkness. Asking the suicide question does NOT increase risk.” Whew!

In my next post I will explain the final two steps, Persuade and Refer. You can read more about them on the QPR website: qprinstitute.com

If you are troubled about your loved one today I hope this Bible verse will encourage you:

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV)

A book I find encouraging, written by a couple who has experienced a lot of suffering is, Do Not Lose Heart by Dave and Jan Dravecky. Available on Amazon.