QPR Quick Quotes: Brenda’s Story: Her Psychic Pain was too Great for Her Children to be a Protective Factor
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The following story is another example of “If only I had known” which
came from an attendee and provided the basis for discussion at a
Gatekeeper workshop. When these stories come up in training,
Foundation facilitators use the example as a case study and teaching tool.

Quick Quote:

 “On the surface, suicide appears counter-intuitive and beyond
explanation. Why we ask ourselves, would anyone want to die?
Now, science has helped us with the answer to this question,
and it is time we got involved with people suffering so badly
that only death promises sure relief.”

                                                                           -Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
      Founder & CEO, QPR Institute

Brenda’s Story: Her Psychic Pain was too Great
for Her Children to be a Protective Factor

                                                                                                    -Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.

Brenda died in her twenty-seventh year from a gunshot wound to her
head. Her two children, ages 7 and 8, were home with her and discovered
her when they heard the sound of the shot. Family and friends were
devastated by the news of her death. Her parents were particularly
shocked that she shot herself while her children were home and destined
to be the ones who would discover her.   

“How could she be so selfish?” and “Did she not think about her kids?”
were among the most common questions and criticisms that were directed
to Brenda’s family and friends. QPR Gatekeeper Training does teach that
having children to care for can be identified as a protective factor for people
who may be suffering from depression, and potentially considering suicide. 
However, Gatekeeper Training also teaches helpers to notice risk factors
and warning signs within context as key to prevention.

In QPR class, the newly trained Gatekeeper talked through what was
known before Brenda's death. As a member of her extended family, the
one sharing about Brenda’s suicide, was aware of at least some of the
problems and issues that Brenda had discussed with family and
co-workers. After Brenda's death, she learned more about what her
siblings, parents, and others knew. She saw how obvious it should have
been that Brenda was slipping into a pit of depression for which without
an intervention, tragic consequences were destined to happen.

"Effective QPR hinges on the fact that people in distress typically
communicate their despair and hopelessness, either in word or
behavior before making a suicide attempt. When we are in great
pain—physical or psychological—we cry out, we whimper, we
look for compassion, support, and understanding."

                                                                                                      -Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
   Founder & CEO, QPR Institute

Brenda had shared openly with her family and co-workers about her
unhappiness during the ten years of her marriage. After the children were
born and things with her husband did not improve, she shared with her
sisters that she felt trapped. A hard-working accountant and devoted
mother, Brenda carried more than her share of the responsibility for their
family life. Her husband, Will, known to be a ladies’ man, made no effort to
attend family functions and the children’s school activities with Brenda. In
the year before her death, Brenda had lost so much weight that her
clothes hung on her slim body. While once a light smoker, she now was
never seen without a lighted cigarette.  

In the last few months before her death, Brenda cried openly with family
and close friends over her sense of helplessness and hopelessness in her
marriage. In the last conversation with her parents, Brenda told them
about rumors that were circulating at Will's workplace that one of the
young women he had been seeing was carrying his child. In that last
conversation, Brenda also begged for her parents’ approval over her
desire to file for divorce and for custody custody of her children. They
told her that divorce was not an option. Their religious beliefs did not
allow for divorce.

When the parents received the news from one of her siblings that Brenda
had shot herself with her husband’s revolver, her mother said she never
imagined that her daughter would do such a thing. Like many family
members and friends, her parents never thought one of their children
would die by their own hand.

"For any prevention efforts to work, we must intervene with all 
people sending suicidal communications, not just those that fit
some statistical high-risk profile."

                                                                                                     -Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
  Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
While Brenda was never heard to threaten suicide directly, her physical
as well as emotional state should have alerted family and friends that she
was a risk. Anyone close to her would have heard her say that she felt
trapped, hopeless, helpless, and alone—all examples that research shows
may lead to death by suicide. Like many who die by their own hand,
Brenda may never have mentioned suicide, but her obsessive discussion
about her failed marriage were her cries for help. These cries went
unheeded due to lack of education and awareness about where unbearable
pain can lead. Her pain was so intense that she reached the point where
even love of her children could not give her reason to believe that life
was worth living.

Upcoming Gatekeeper Trainings

Miami Gatekeeper Training
Hyatt Place Miami Airport East, June 20, 2018

Atlanta Gatekeeper Training
Courtyard Atlanta Airport North, September 27, 2018


QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer and is a research-based
intervention that anyone can learn. The Foundation works with the QPR
Institute to customize this successful intervention for cruise lines,
aviation, human resources professionals and other workplace groups. 
Please contact stephen.young@aviem.com
 at the Foundation if you would
like to know more about how you can learn to be a QPR Gatekeeper in your
organization. You can also learn how you can become a certified trainer
of the QPR Gatekeeper model. Contact the Foundation to discuss your

© 2018 QPR Institute Inc./Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation 
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