At a recent conference sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education, Community Health Network sponsored a training session entitled, “QPR for Suicide Prevention.” The research-based session began by educating the audience on the latest suicide statistics. Girls and young women are twice as likely to suffer from depression, however boys complete suicide more frequently than girls. In the United States, a 2014 study of 10-34 year olds revealed an increase in the number of suicides each year since 2006. Individuals ages 10-24 are at the highest risk. The study looked at four age groups: 10-14, 15-24, 25-34, and 35-44. For each age group, the number one cause of death was unintentional injury such as accidents or medical illnesses. Suicide was the second highest cause of death for 15-24 and 25-34 year olds. It was the third highest cause of death in 10-14 year olds.
Study results for the state of Indiana were also shared. In 2014, 43 Indiana high school students committed suicide. More than 52,300 Indiana high school students attempted suicide, the second highest in the United States. An alarming 89,800 high school students in Indiana report thinking about suicide.
Parents, educators, caregivers, and all adults should be aware of four categories of suicidal signs or clues. There are both indirect and direct verbal clues. Statements which allude to giving up, loss of hope or motivation are types of indirect clues. Direct verbal statements made by an individual that mention death, killing oneself, or suicide should never be ignored. Behavior clues include previous suicidal attempts, heightened interest or disinterest in Religion, and drug-alcohol abuse, to mention a few. Finally, there are situational clues such as loss of freedoms, death of friend or relative, being expelled from school, termination of a relationship or an unwanted move to a new school or place.
The conference taught individuals the three steps to QPR-Question, Persuade, Refer. The most important step of QPR is step one-asking the question: Are you considering suicide? Research has repeatedly shown that once a person has been asked or confronted about suicidal thoughts, they feel relief. Anxiety decreases while hope increases. HOW you ask the question is less important but rather that you ASK the question. Listening is the most important part of step two, Persuade. Understanding that suicide is not the problem but that the problem lies in finding a solution to the individual’s situation. The goal of Persuasion is to get the person to agree to help. The final step, Referral, is most successful when you personally take the person to an appropriate professional.
This is a very concise review of a very complicated issue facing today’s youth. More detailed information can be found by accessing the sites below. However, being bold and persistent in efforts to help a troubled youth will instill hope and possibly save a life.