QPR suicide prevention training offered to campus community

Maija Anstine

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for the QPR suicide prevention training, offered as part of Lawrence’s Lifeline grant for suicide prevention on college campuses.

The acronym refers to the three steps of the system: question, persuade and refer. Those trained learn how to ask if a friend is considering suicide, persuade them to seek assistance and finally to refer them to a mental health professional.

Definitive training schedules will be ready for Spring Term, though 21 faculty members, some athletic staff and all campus RLAs and RHDs have already gone through the training.

The training consists of one 90-minute informative and interactive session, preparing participants to approach friends or colleagues who they think might be at risk for suicidal behavior.

“It gives you a way to approach someone,” said Megan Luedtke, an RLA in Ormsby Hall. “It’s a little more than just asking the blunt question.”

Assistant Director of Admissions Chuck Erickson ’02, half of the core organizational team for the training, explained, “The point of QPR is that you’re more likely to talk to your friend than just randomly walk into a counselor’s office.”

Julie Haurykiewicz, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the other half of the team, agreed that “the frontline is your friends.”

Erickson noted that the training isn’t just for on campus use and can be used for friends at other campuses, neighbors at home or co-workers.

QPR, a national organization, has been called a “best practice,” meaning that the methodology has been consistently effective in other communities where it has been implemented.

Few schools in the country have implemented it, though three others in Wisconsin have: Marquette University, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh and the College of Menominee Nation.

Erickson hopes to establish the training, which is free of cost, as a “cultural norm on campus” among generations of Lawrentians, in order to fulfill the self-sustaining aims of Lawrence’s Lifeline grant.

According to Haurykiewicz, QPR is “a really good skill for anyone to have; we all encounter, personally and with our friends, times where we are under extreme stress.”

“We want to make it okay to talk about suicide; it can be a very scary and taboo topic… we want to give permission to talk about it,” said Erickson, whose “best dream would be to have every student take advantage of the training.”

Multiple suicide attempts and two actual suicides that happened on the Lawrence campus three years ago inspired a group of faculty and staff to apply for the Lifeline grant. “Ask a question, save a life,” is the slogan of the training, just part of Lawrence’s implementation of the grant.

Luedtke and Kelsi Brown, also an RLA in Ormsby Hall, agreed that they have not specifically needed to use the training yet, but Brown said, “the awareness of dealing with mental health issues it creates, you use all the time.”

Those interested in training should sign up at http://lawrence.edu/lifeline.

Interested groups such as fraternities or sports teams should contact Haurykiewicz or Erickson directly.