Dozens of students, faculty and staff participated in a QPR Suicide Prevention Training hosted by Follow Our Lead this week at Weatherford College.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and Katherine Neale, FOL program director, wanted to enforce the message on that the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide needs to be broken down.
“The stigma on suicide and mental health saddens me,” Neale said. “I feel it is important to offer help to individuals who may be in need. There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. We can help prevent that from happening with the right tools and information.”
Shivaun Palmer with the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation conducted the training. “QPR” stands for the process of questioning, persuading and referring individuals who may be at risk of attempting suicide.
“One of the big myths is that talking or asking about suicide will put the idea into someone's head,” Palmer said. “The fact is this just doesn't happen. People are not that susceptible and talking directly about suicide actually reduces anxiety.”
The JEH Foundation was established by the parents of Jordan Elizabeth Harris after she ended her life in 2012 shortly before her college graduation. “Jo” was the valedictorian of her high school class in North Richland Hills and a National Merit Scholarship winner. She volunteered with philanthropic efforts and sought to help those in need. She also battled depression.
Looking back after her suicide, her parents noted Jo had a sudden sense of calm during a family vacation the week before her death. This calmness is one of many signs of impending suicide, and is usually exhibited after a person comes to terms with their decisions, Palmer said.
Other warning signs of suicide include: talking about suicide, seeking out lethal means, a preoccupation with death, saying goodbye, feeling there is no hope for the future, self-destructive behavior, self loathing, getting their affairs in order and withdrawing from others.
“I got involved in the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation as a certified suicide prevention training volunteer after meeting the co-founder Ellen Harris, and learning about their mission,” Palmer said. “I have family members who have suffered with mental illness and know that the work the JEH Foundation is doing is changing and saving lives.”
The mission of the JEH Foundation is “to eradicate suicide by funding depression research, creating awareness through education, erasing the stigma and providing hopes to those who are struggling in silence.”
In order to achieve this mission, the Foundation has trained dozens of QPR trainers to, in turn, train the community at large to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to intervene.
“This training teaches you to notice the warning signs of someone that may be contemplating suicide and knowing how to handle the situation as well as the resources and professionals that can help,” Neale said. “After I took the QPR training, I thought it would be a great training to bring to Weatherford College to give students and faculty the opportunity to learn the tools to save a life in under an hour.”
Pictured: QPR trainer Shivaun Palmer, WC instructor Suzie Jary and FOL program director Katherine Neale