"A suicide crisis is a life-threatening event which – if not
responded to in a helpful fashion – may progress to a
self-inflicted injury or death.”
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
Early Recognition of Distress Signals May Have
Saved a Life…Dana's Story
-Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
Dana had been flying for a corporate aviation company for four years
when she and her husband of seven years decided their marriage was
over. While the relationship had always been stormy, the last three years
had been painful and there were no more good times together as a couple.
The most difficult part for both was how the relationship was affecting the
two children, ages five and six. And they knew that as difficult as a divorce
would be for all of them, fighting and name-calling in front of the children
was likely producing additional problems. Marriage counseling helped them
see differences they would never be able to resolve.
Dana’s husband, also a pilot, had as erratic a schedule as she did. And
both were junior enough in their careers that both wanted to keep their
jobs, to ensure they could meet their long-term career goals, and pay the
bills. Working together, they bid their trips around holidays and weekends
and shared the cost of childcare when they could not be home. But both
were realistic and knew that living separate lives, even with joint custody,
child care would become a challenge.
Dana loved flying and knew that of the two of them, if anyone might have
to give up their career, it would be her. While they both earned the same
amount of income, as the mom, she knew that everyone in their extended
family would see her as the one who needed to find a different career, so
at least one of the parents would be home nights and weekends.
The last few weeks before they officially separated, Dana checked in for
more than one flight with a different appearance than normal. Whereas
Dana normally was well-groomed and wore make-up, she now appeared
to have little interest in her appearance. Flying partners noticed that she
was crying a good bit, and she was not her normal cheerful self. More than
one person heard her arguing with her husband on her cell phone while
The Gatekeepers: How QPR Works
The leadership team noticed the changes in Dana and listened to her
teammates who expressed their concerns for her well-fare. The team
knew that much of what was happening to Dana could potentially lead to
serious problems. They knew that not every divorce or emotional upset
resulted in disaster, yet, they knew that the signs she was exhibiting could
potentially interfere with every part of her life, including her flying skills.
The leadership team met with the owners of the company and expressed
their concern for Dana. They proposed that Dana be given a temporary
office job that allowed her to be home with her children at night and on
weekends during this tumultuous part of the divorce. They suggested
offering her a more normal schedule until she and her husband worked
through the settlement process and could see their way forward after the
divorce. And, she would receive the same amount of pay and be allowed
to fly enough hours to keep her certificate current. Management agreed
to the plan.
Dana was ecstatic when she was offered the opportunity to keep her job
as a pilot while temporarily working normal business hours. She could
eventually return to flying, with no penalty in her seniority for time spent
in a ground job. Having a normal schedule also allowed Dana to meet with
a counselor on a regular basis where she could get the professional help
she needed as well. Within a few months, the divorce was final, the
childcare arrangements agreed upon, and Dana returned to flying.
QPR is about Team Work
The management team and Dana’s peers, acting as gatekeepers per the
QPR model, recognized signs of distress on the part of one of their valued
colleagues and employees and took the time to intervene on her behalf.
While professional counseling was part of the plan, her teammates found
a way to cover her flights temporarily which helped her with childcare and
other home front issues. Being home at night and having a nine to five
job for a short time allowed Dana the time she needed to work out plans
for her and the children’s future. The team took great pride in seeing her
every work day and watching her return to the well-groomed, personable
team member she had always been. When Dana announced that she was
ready to return to flying, leadership had their own proof that the crisis
had passed, and gladly supported her choice to return to the line.
"While the QPR method was developed specifically to detect and respond to
persons emitting suicide warning signs, QPR has been widely applied as a
universal intervention for anyone who may be experiencing emotional
distress. The QPR concept is adapted from the CPR “Chain of Survival”
literature for how lay and professional citizens can respond to persons
experiencing acute cardiac events."
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
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 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
© 2018 QPR Institute Inc./Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation
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