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The Role Social Connectedness Plays in Suicide
-Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
“QPR differs from other suicide prevention programs in that it
recognizes that even socially isolated suicidal individuals have
contact with potential rescuers, e.g., friends, family, school
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
"In my entire eight-day visit to the hospital, I only saw a
doctor one time. The hospital gave me a place to hide. The
funny thing (that happened) while I was there…and the best
therapy was that I started having visitors. I had so many
visitors; my commander, my branch chief, friends, neighbors,
supervisors—people I thought did not care because they did
not notice. Because when you are depressed you have a
semi-façade…. These people really care. They talk to you as a
human being. They talk to you from an element of understanding
and that did more good for me than anything else."
-Air Force Member who provided testimony in a 2001 video, produced by
the Office of Survivor Assistance
This survivor of two suicide attempts provided an example of how support
from peers, friends, co-workers, is crucial in assisting someone in need of
help. In 2011, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) began a major effort to address the growing numbers of suicide
in the US, they adopted promoting social connectedness as its strategic
direction for preventing suicidal behavior . The CDC defines
connectedness as the “degree to which a person or group is socially close,
interrelated, or shares resources with persons or groups.”
One of the actions that the CDC recommended was defined as “creating
and sustaining peer-delivered services and support groups.” QPR provides
a framework for peers, co-workers, family members and all groups where
people are already connected, naturally. While QPR also supports the
involvement of an organization’s employee assistance program, and help
from those professionally trained, QPR is based on the premise that
anyone can learn to help a friend remain safe during times when
problems in life may seem insurmountable—as was the case in the
above service member’s quote.
At the Family Assistance Foundation, since we have adopted the QPR
model and have begun conducting Gatekeeper Training and providing
certification for our members, allowing them to conduct their own
in-house training, we continue to receive reports about its suitability
for the workforce. Whereas many people were once afraid to offend a
friend or co-worker by showing an interest in their personal lives, the
QPR model gives examples of how to approach someone and the
effectiveness of doing so. Feeling connected and knowing that another
person has an interest in our emotional health goes a long way in
supporting the social connectedness that is proven to save lives.
"While the QPR method was developed specifically to detect and
respond to persons emitting warning signs, QPR has also been
more widely applied as a universal intervention for anyone who
may be experiencing emotional distress."
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
In one of the Foundation’s member companies where they are providing
Gatekeeper Training to virtually all of the employees, a recent death
caused an interesting response. The death was in no way related to
suicide. However, the employees who are providing the training received
an increase in phone calls from co-workers they had trained. The calls
were not related to suicide but rather were made by people reaching
out—socially. The loss of a valued team member seems to have caused
many of the employees to want to connect with someone they felt they
could confide in about their feelings surrounding the death of a co-worker.
A representative from another company using the QPR model reported
that he finds himself engaging more on an emotional level with colleagues
and friends. He believes that his QPR Training has helped him tune in
more to what is going on with family and friends. This feedback from our
corporate members, along with examples where employees have directly
intervened when they recognized warning signs, continues to validate the
usefulness of this model for effective application in the workplace.
prevention of suicidal behavior: Promoting individual, family, and community
connectedness to prevent suicidal behavior.
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, see www.qprinstitute.com. 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 Stephen Young at email@example.com.
Upcoming Gatekeeper Trainings
Hong Kong Gatekeeper Training
Hong Kong Train-the-Trainer
Burbank Gatekeeper Training
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.
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 companies, human resources professionals and other workplace
groups. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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 interests.
© 2018 QPR Institute Inc./Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation
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