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Education Needed to Increase Support for Cruise Line Employees & Crew Members
- Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
Want to see how much you know about global suicide statistics? Dr. Paul Quinnett of the QPR Institute has created a simple test that will take only moments to complete—and educate you on the growing international suicide epidemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020, the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds. Since the Family Assistance Foundation serves member organizations throughout the world by providing education and trauma support, these numbers are of grave concern to us. We are making depression awareness and suicide prevention training accessible to all of our members.
Current Trends for Handling Cruise Line Employees at Risk
The previous QPR Quick Quotes described the consequences that employees may face when it becomes known that they are unable to perform their onboard duties due to depression or other emotional/psychological reasons. Situational stress that all people face in our lives i.e., loss of family members, relationship conflicts, and other life adjustment issues are often experienced with little support and understanding. Far away from friends and family, and unable to return home for months at a time, feelings of despair and isolation can escalate, and often go unrecognized until the situation is dire. The threat of being sent home, never to be hired by a cruise line again, silences many crew members and too often has fatal results.
Another contributing factor to the risk for suicide for shipboard employees pertains to the accessibility of alcohol. Employees are able to purchase alcohol for less than it costs to buy a bottle of water. One former employee described paying $1.25 for an alcoholic drink in the crew lounge. In a guest bar on the ship, the same drink could cost a passenger as much as $15.00. Isolation from loved ones, feelings of loneliness, sadness or depression, with easy access to affordable alcohol is a tragic formula for disaster.
As part of QPR Gatekeeper Training, Dr. Paul Quinnett lists the following assumptions about people at high risk. Those most at risk for suicide:
Tend not to self-refer for treatment
Tend to be treatment resistant
Often abuse drugs and/or alcohol
Go untreated (and remain at risk for suicide)
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
The Foundation’s Customized QPR Gatekeeper Instructor Training
Several Foundation member cruise lines have endorsed the QPR Gatekeeper model for training leadership, peers and co-workers on how to recognize and avert a suicide crisis before it is too late. Recognizing the applicability of the assumptions underlying QPR Theory to cruise line employees and the severe punishment practiced by many cruise lines when employees indicate a need for help, has caused many companies to seek practical solutions. QPR is a proven success model for saving lives as it has been heavily researched over its many years of existence.
The Foundation’s customized cruise line program includes discussion of risk factors and warning signs specifically associated with shipboard personnel. The Train-the-Trainer model has been endorsed by several lines and more than one plans to offer an on-line Train-the-Trainer model as a way to increase the number of Gatekeepers on board.
In addition to offering Train-the-Trainer to shipboard leaders, one major cruise line has become proactive with presenting QPR Gatekeeper to new crew members during orientation training—before they begin work on board. In addition to training the new crew members about their job and duties associated with their role on ships, employees are given information about the challenges and hardships that go along with the job. And more importantly, how to reach out for help when emotional challenges arise. The new hires also are trained as Gatekeepers. They learn how to recognize risk factors as well as warning signs in peers and co-workers and how to take action to prevent the crisis from escalating.
As the number of cruise line guests increases annually, the number of employees needed to serve the guests, also grows—and the employee pool is global in nature.
According to Cruise Market Watch, worldwide, the ocean cruise industry had an annual passenger compound growth rate of 6.63% from 1990 – 2020. The growth to date has been driven by larger capacity new ships, their diversification, more local ports, more destinations and new on-board/on-shore activities that match demands of consumers. The industry is also expanding rapidly, globally. As the number of cruise line guests increases annually, the number of employees needed to serve the guests, also grows. Consistent with the increase in suicides throughout the world as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), anecdotal data indicates that suicides by shipboard employees and crew members is also rising.
The Foundation recognizes the efforts of many cruise line companies to increase awareness of the challenges faced by the employees on ships and stands ready to help educate and train their leadership teams as well as all ship personnel.
QPR Train-the-Trainer and Gatekeeper will be held on
Friday, December 6 at Carnival House, 100 Harbour Parade, Southampton, SO15 1ST.
Train-the-Trainer is from 8:30 - 17:00 with a lunch break from 12:00 - 13:00. Certification entitles you to train an unlimited number of people for three years. Gatekeeper will be held from 13:00 - 16:00.
Seating is limited to 20, and over half of the seats are already taken, so please contact:
Dede Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Carolyn Coarsey at email@example.com to register. Priority will be given to those who wish to train in their own companies. Seats that are not taken for the Train-the-Trainer will be open to all who wish to be trained as Gatekeepers.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, and is a research-based intervention that anyone can learn. If you are interested in learning more about how to become a Gatekeeper and becoming part of a more extensive network that is dedicated to suicide prevention, please contact us. The Foundation works with the QPR Institute to customize this successful intervention for cruise lines, aviation companies, human resources professionals, and other workplace groups. To learn more about the training classes offered by the Family Assistance Foundation, and for information about upcoming Gatekeeper classes and how you can become a trainer within your workplace go to fafonline.org. You can also contact Cheri Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Gatekeeper Trainings
Atlanta Gatekeeper Training
September 27, 2019
Atlanta Train-the-Trainer Training
September 27, 2019
London Gatekeeper Training
December 6, 2019
London Train-the-Trainer Training
December 6, 2019
QPR Gatekeeper and Train-the-Trainer Training will be offered at additional locations when additional dates for Foundation Member-Partner Meetings are announced for 2019.