July 14, 2024

Suicide prevention: what to do as a friend

This archived article was written by: Stacy Graven

What if a friend approached you with an upsetting admission? This is how you can help. Darin Brandt, director of student counseling, said, “The first thing someone should realize is that they are not the expert and they don’t have to be.” It may be hard to know the appropriate way to handle such a crisis. What does someone do as a friend?
Concern for the individual arises in the friend and panic or uncertainty may prevent or cloud proper thought. This is where QPR (question, persuade, and refer) comes in. Qprinstitute.com was recommended by Brandt who said, “QPR’s mission is to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training.” A similar approach to aiding survival is Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation. CPR is for emergency medical intervention where as QPR is for emergency mental health intervention. “Both CPR and QPR are part of systems designed to increase the chance of survival in the event of a crisis,” Qprinstitute.com says.
First things first is question – wording is important in this and you want to make sure to not ask in a negative way. The appropriate way of questioning is, “are you thinking of hurting yourself or are you thinking of killing yourself?” Brandt said. If you ask with a negative connotation, they are less likely to answer in accordance with their feelings. They might even outright deny it. Wording is key. Recognition of warning signs comes in questioning, as well.
Next is persuade – calming and reassurance are necessary in times of crisis. Signs of hope and positive support toward the individual can help. Harsh words and negative reactions to their admissions can hinder instead of help.
Lastly is refer – get them help. This is where people ask the question of how. There are multiple resources for this. You can call 911 if it is very crucial to survival and Brandt at 435-613-5670 during office hours for that help that you are searching for. Taking them to the emergency room is another possibility. When a person is injured physically, this is where the injury is helped. Mentally, it is no different. You can know how to save a life.
A word of caution is advised to those approached. Some, when approached with the QPR process, might deny it outright. People close to them might even say, “I should have known,” There is no sure way to know 100 percent so it isn’t your fault.
“If we were to be brave and ask that [first] question more often, we’d lower the rate of suicide.” Brandt said. Unfortunately, last year we had two devastating occurrences. If all of us are more aware of the resources and possibilities for help, there would be less suicide and more surviving. “Reach out to me or my interns. They are there to help and are more than willing to. Utilize these resources and do not be afraid to. Help and hope exist. The time for a better tomorrow is now,” he said.