QPR Quick Quotes: For most parents, suicide prevention is not an issue until their child dies by it.
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Quick Quote:

 “For most parents, suicide prevention is not an issue until their
child dies by it.

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

One of the most challenging and painful parts of becoming educated about
prevention of suicide involves reflection over past deaths by suicide of
loved ones and friends, where one must say, “if only I had known”.  At
the Foundation when this comes up in training, we advise the Gatekeeper
to share the story, explain what was known, and what was not known—so
that we can all learn from their experiences. We will use many of these
stories in upcoming Quick Quotes for the same purpose, which we will
label ‘painful learning opportunities’.

Painful Learning Opportunities: a Teen’s
Family and Friends

                                                                                                    -Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.

Belinda was an attractive, popular teen-age girl for whom academic work
was always a challenge. She failed her senior year. Belinda wanted badly
to attend college in the fall with all her friends, and now this would be

Belinda’s hope returned when she learned from the guidance counselor
at the high school about a way to stay on track with her peers. By
attending summer school and passing the classes that she had
failed—she would be able to enroll in community college and catch up
with her friends, who were attending the state university, 
in a year or two.
Belinda discussed the option with her parents. While her mother
supported her plan, Belinda’s father did not. He felt that it was best for
her to repeat her senior year and receive her diploma in the traditional
ceremony, where the entire family could be involved and share her

Belinda felt that repeating her senior year and graduating with the class
behind her was too humiliating to even consider. She let everyone know
that she would not do this. Her father refused to support her plan to
attend summer school, so he and Belinda were at an impasse. As summer
wore on, Belinda saw no acceptable solution. She acquired a hand gun. 
Her parents found the gun and took it away from her. They removed the
gun from the home and it was no longer accessible to her.

Realizing, at least partially, the stress Belinda was under, her parents
made an appointment for her to see a therapist. The therapist prescribed
medication for Belinda. While Belinda’s friends prepared for college in the
fall, Belinda was left to face repeating her senior year at the
local high school.

Belinda’s mood did not improve as summer wore on. Belinda was found by
her mother, one morning in her room dead of an apparent self-inflicted
gunshot to her head. Belinda had gained access to a second handgun,
unbeknown to her parents. Her family, her school friends, and the entire
community were devastated. Everyone knew she was unhappy, but those
within her personal circle never thought she would take her life—even
after she acquired the first gun. Her parents thought that seeing a
counselor, and taking medication was the answer to her problems and felt
the situation was handled.

Information that Trained Gatekeepers Know

"Treating suicidal patients should be a specialty practice requiring
advanced training, demonstrate competencies, and state
certification. As it is now, any licensed healthcare professional is
free to treat suicidal consumers with little, minimal or no
knowledge, skills, or experience. How else can we account for so
many deaths by suicide among consumers receiving services in
our healthcare service delivery system?"

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

After the tragic loss, Belinda’s family told others that they thought
counseling and the medications would help Belinda through the crisis.
Trained Gatekeepers know that while seeing a counselor is a major
component of the team approach advocated by the QPR model, this is
only one part. And it is estimated that 28% of people who die by suicide
are being treated by a health care professional or have seen one within
the 30 days prior to their death by suicide. Not every counselor is trained
to assess and prevent suicide. In fact the majority are not, with
psychiatrists being the exception. Perhaps the real tragedy is that some
72% of those who die by suicide never see a mental health
professional at all.

Suicide Assessment
Gatekeepers are trained on signs that are predictive of an imminent
suicide. In Belinda’s case, suicidal desire included feeling trapped,
hopeless, and helpless, and intolerably alone—in her desire to keep on
track with her peers, and not repeat her senior year. Suicidal capability
and suicidal intent, both major predictors of imminent suicide, became
obvious when Belinda purchased a gun. She clearly demonstrated a
serious desire to take action and further that she knew how to acquire
the means to end her life. 

"It is well known that very suicidal people are ambivalent about
dying and still enjoy some will to live. Numerous cases
of highly probable fatal suicide attempts result in life, not death,
and only afterward were those who should have died able to
enumerate their reasons for living."

                                                                                                     -Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
  Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
Connections and promises of the future are proven to help buffer suicidal
people against attempting suicide. Researchers provide examples of
these to include: social supports, planning for the future, engagement
with a helper in a positive, helpful relationship, ambivalence for
living/dying, core values/beliefs, and sense of purpose in life. Reviewing
Belinda’s story, after her death, it is obvious that healthy connections
with people who could help was not available to her. 

Knowing that she had one person on her side who would support 
her vision for her future might have provided the hope she needed to
believe there was life for her, after this crisis. Unfortunately, Belinda’s
story is one more example where an individual might have been saved
had those around her had a better understanding of suicide prevention
such as that provided by Gatekeeper training.

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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