What do parents need to know about suicide? They need to know there’s something they could do that might make the difference if they suspect their son or daughter is thinking about taking their life. That’s good news! This is part one of a two part series outlining something called QPR = three simple steps (QPR steps) anyone can learn. They can actually help prevent a suicide.
What is the number one cause of suicidal behavior?
When discovered, depression is highly treatable. Complicating factors arise, however, when a person self- medicates (using alcohol – a depressant, or drugs). As odd as it sounds, research shows that “once someone decides to end their life, the hours before death are often filled with a kind of chipperness, even blissful calm. This change in mood is a good time to apply QPR.” Who needs to know this technique? Everyone – not just concerned parents. I encourage you to share this information with your friends. Let’s spread the word and save lives.
The three steps are:
Question – the person about suicide.
Persuade – the person to get help.
Refer – the person to the appropriate resource.
The first step of asking “the question” is the focus of today’s blog. This takes a lot of courage. If you can’t bring yourself to do it, find someone who can. When in doubt don’t wait. QPR is designed to interrupt the terrible journey from thinking about suicide to acting on it. According to Dr. Quinett, creator of QPR, the warning signs described in my last blog are often given during the week preceding an attempt. Therefore, it’s vital to overcome reluctance and follow this process as soon as you see any red flags.
How to Ask The Question
Plan a time and place to ask the “S” question. Try to have privacy. It may take up to an hour, so allow adequate time. When asked about this , most people need to talk. Good listening skills will be a huge plus. Don’t be too quick to fix; just listen and empathize. They need to be heard and know someone cares.
First, acknowledge their distress: “Have you been unhappy lately? Have you been very unhappy lately? Have you been so very unhappy you wished you were dead?” OR “Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?” OR “You know, when people are as upset as you seem to be, they sometimes wish they were dead. I’m wondering if you’re feeling that way, too?”
If you’re still not sure, then be more direct : “Have you ever wanted to stop living?” OR “You look pretty miserable. Are you thinking of killing yourself?” OR “I’m wondering if you are thinking about suicide?” If these don’t sound like you, then rephrase it to what works for you. Practicing will help, too. If someone just said something to you in a conversation that alarms you like, “I can’t take it anymore” OR “I’m done”, you could ask them the question immediately (in private) – “What you just said concerns me. Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
Asking the question is the MOST IMPORTANT step in QPR. It’s definitely the hardest, but it’s the most helpful.
If they say, “yes”, go on to the next step – Persuade. (to be explained in my next post)
Remember, just simply being asked brings relief, NOT distress, contrary to popular belief: Anxiety decreases and hope increases. “A chance to go on living has been offered. It is almost as if, by asking the “S” question we provide a ray of light where there has been utter darkness. Asking the suicide question does NOT increase risk.” Whew!
In Part 2 I’ll explain the next two steps of QPR, Persuade and Refer. You can read more about them on their website: qprinstitute.com
Let this Bible verse strengthen your heart:
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV)
And a book I find encouraging, written by a couple who has experienced a great deal of suffering is, Do Not Lose Heart by Dave and Jan Dravecky. Available on Amazon.