?Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicide prevention which may be upsetting to some readers.
Goal: Provide readers with information about suicide prevention, the #BeThe1To campaign, and the QPR Institute.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2018 and was the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34. We wanted to dedicate some of our time to promote suicide prevention resources. In this post we are going to highlight two specific organizations and give a brief summary of their techniques for all audiences. As a brief reminder, the below summaries are a great starting point for learning more about suicide prevention, but we highly recommend visiting these organization’s websites to gain a more complete understanding of these techniques, as well as a more in depth look at what an intervening conversation should look like.
#BeThe1To is a campaign working to expand Suicide Prevention awareness. Each week of September they are rolling out their 5 step model: ASK, BE THERE, KEEP THEM SAFE, HELP THEM CONNECT, and FOLLOW UP. This week is focusing on limiting access to lethal means to at risk individuals. Additionally, providing increased social connection has been shown to be a protective factor against suicide and is something that anyone can do to help those in need. Especially during COVID-19, many people are feeling isolated. This experience can be even harder for those who already struggle with loneliness.
The best way you can Keep Them Safe is by knowing what steps to take after lending an empathetic ear. Listen to how they are feeling and what is troubling them without judgement. Remember that if you are going to offer assistance to someone that you need to follow through with your actions. Only offer to what you are able to commit to accomplish.
For more info visit: BeThe1To.com
One of the ways we have learned to Keep Them Safe is through QPR training. In 2019, our school required all first-year medical students to complete the introductory QPR Gatekeeper training. This course addresses the feeling that most everyone has at some point in time, “I want to help; I want to think I would step-up, but to be honest, I’m not sure how!”. The in-person training allowed us to open a dialogue with our peers and confront the awkward nature that this subject can hold, even among aspiring medical professionals.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer. This is a positive action technique anyone can use when you think someone is considering suicide. The first step is to Question a person about suicide. Key things to keep in mind are finding a private place to have this conversation, give yourself plenty of time for the conversation, and most importantly you have to ask the question. Research shows that asking if someone is suicidal does not increase risk for suicide. Give the person your full attention and do not interrupt as they speak.
The second step is Persuade the person to get help. As they speak about their struggles, reaffirm that suicide is not a good solution to their problems. The QPR Institute identifies the goal of persuasion as having the person agree to get some help. This is more easily accomplished by offering support and collaborating to find a better solution together.
The final step is Refer the person to professional help. While anyone can potentially identify an individual contemplating suicide, very rarely are they qualified to offer appropriate, long-term care. You can help your friends and family by referring them to a mental health professional, or their primary care physician to make connections if you don’t know of any yourself. You are also able to contact the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you are in a position to do so, encourage your school, organization, or club to sign up for QPR Gatekeeper training. It is an invaluable experience that may ensure you have the tools to one day save someone’s life.
For more info visit: QPRinstitute.com
We encourage everyone to voice your support during National Suicide Prevention month by sharing resources on social media, you can use the #BeThe1To hashtag to further connect with others. As future health care professionals, theBombJopCOM urges everyone to reach out to others if you think they need support, or reach out for help if you are struggling with mental health. Despite being in quarantine, remember that no one should be alone.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: AFSP.org – Stats by US States
- Crisis Texting Hotline: CrisisTextLine.org
US and Canada: text 741741 || UK: text 85258 || Ireland: text 50808
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA.gov
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI.org – Relevant Link
- Combating the Physician Mental Health and Suicide Stigma in Medicine – by AAFP
- Non-US Crisis Hotline List From Wikipedia
(Resource List Last Updated: 9/12/2020)