Suicide Prevention Workshop hosted by CSU Counseling Center Psychologist

Bruce Menapace hosted a presentation for the campus community on ways to help prevent suicide.

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, a way to approach a potentially suicidal person. Photo courtesy of the QPR Institute

Cleveland State University Counseling Center psychologist Bruce Menapace taught the QPR method for preventing suicide to 35 students and faculty on Nov. 12.

The goal of the QPR method is to empower students to question, persuade, refer, and offer hope to anyone who might be considering suicide.

Data on Suicide

Menapace began by emphasizing how the rate of suicide is steadily increasing across the country. From 1999 to 2018, suicide has increased by 35% in the U.S. Additionally, from 2007-2018, suicide in Ohio has increased by 44.8%. For individuals between the ages of 15-24 and 25-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death, after accidental injury.

Next, he described what we know about Cleveland State’s own students’ mental health. The Spring 2018 Healthy Mind study surveyed a random sample of 7000 students and received 711 responses. The results, pictured below, show that 18.5% have seriously considered suicide, with 3% having attempted suicide.

Results of the 2018 Healthy Mind survey of CSU students. Courtesy of Bruce Menapace

Menapace said that international students, the LGBTQ community, and veterans in particular, are at a higher risk of mental health issues. International students sometimes experience “culture shock” that feels overwhelming, especially during the age of COVID, which has offered less access to social support.

Suicide Prevention Workshop

Participants began the training by watching the QPR introduction video. The video pointed out how thousands of lives have already been saved by QPR-trained individuals. It expressed the dangers of suicide myths, such as “no one can stop a suicide,” and “suicidal people keep their plans to themselves.”

Research has shown that people are open to help if they can access it, and that most people communicate suicidal intent at some time during the week before the event.

Next, participants learned to recognize direct and indirect verbal clues that show suicidal intent. Making a plan, such as acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills, were introduced as behavioral examples. Situational clues, such as losing a major relationship, can also be events to watch.

Menapace acknowledged it might be hard to ask someone if they’re suicidal, but reminded the attendees that you could be the reason for someone to stay alive, the idea behind the “Q” in QPR. In this “Question” section, Menapace mentioned suicidal intent can ask about either directly or indirectly, and that people are shown to answer honestly when asked.

Participants were later split into separate virtual rooms to practice asking each other about suicidal intent. One conversation served as a strong reminder of why programs like QPR are needed, as a participant opened up about feeling so overwhelmed by college that she questions the point of life.

After the virtual room conversations, the persuade part of the training began. The observers learned to be as attentive as possible, not to judge, and to offer any hope that they can, as they persuade people to access help.

The “Refer” part of training advised that the best outcome is taking the person to someone who can help. If this is not possible, getting a commitment from them to accept help, then planning to get that help is also possible.

Better than nothing is giving referral info and getting a commitment not to attempt suicide. Any three of the outcomes is a worthwhile achievement of bringing more hope into the world.

The next QPR Training session will take place in March. If you are interested in attending, you can learn more here.

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