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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac, Hartford Healthcare provide free suicide prevention training

Peyton McKenzie

Quinnipiac University is working alongside Hartford Healthcare to provide students, faculty and staff with free Question, Persuade and Refer training designed to spread awareness and educate community members about suicide prevention.

Officials hosted the training in the Mount Carmel Campus’ Recreation and Wellness Center on Sept. 29 and are offering two additional training sessions during the fall 2023 semester — once on Oct. 27 and again on Dec. 1.

“The topic of mental health awareness, in particular when we are questioning somebody who might be suicidal or whether there are any warning sings, is really uncomfortable for us,” said Tami Reilly, director of fitness and wellbeing. “I think the more information we can get the more comfortable we are with noticing some of the signs and the simple acronym of QPR, can really help us, because in the moments of crisis, we all just kind of panic.”

Quinnipiac officials first announced this training on Sept. 14 via the @quwellness Instagram page, but some students like Molly Barney, a sophomore biochemistry 3+1 major, learned about it in their psychology classes.

“I think trainings like QPR can be crucial in escalated situations,” Barney said. “It is hard enough to be in a situation where you need the help, but feeling like you cannot get it is distressing to say the least. QPR training can help spread awareness on prevention methods.”

The QPR process, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, follows three steps: question the individual’s desire or intent regarding suicide; persuade the person to seek and accept help; and refer the person to appropriate resources. 

The QPR Institute website notes that the training involves educating the general public about the known warning signs of a suicide crisis — expressions of hopelessness, depression, giving away possessions, talking about suicide and securing lethal means — as well as how to respond.

Reilly compared it to the widely-known acronym CPR, a technique used to resuscitate someone suffering a cardiac arrest. 

And although QPR “definitely has the premise of helping somebody else, it is valuable for students to reflect on themselves and be able to reach out to somebody saying, ‘Wow, maybe this is me,’” she said.

Reilly said the university’s Health and Wellness department is trying to broaden the scope of what they offer to students, to make a concerted effort to bring not just education but opportunities for training.

“Mental health is a topic that is on everybody’s mind these days,” Reilly said. “I think the pandemic really brought it all to the forefront, students were feeling more stressed and anxious and lonely than before. That is why we do this.”

On campus, the training is offered by Laurel Reagan, the director of behavioral health for Hartford Healthcare. The QPR Institute offers this course online as well, but Reilly strongly believes that this is an in-person discussion.

“It is a heavy topic,” Reilly said. “Reading the energy in the room and making sure everyone is okay is important, because if someone is triggered, if they are coming because they lost someone to suicide in the past — we want to be with that person and support them.”

The hour-long training is mostly conversation-based, with a PowerPoint presentation and an allotted time for questions and comments. The facilitator goes through situational scenarios that are then talked about, and how to best handle them. At the end, the participants are awarded a certificate that is active for two years.

Currently, this training is only offered those three times, however Reilly hopes that will soon change.

“We are working with Hartford Healthcare, who is providing the lead on this,” Reilly said. “They donate their time to come and do this — our goal is to get people on campus as facilitators, to train people on staff so that it can be offered more frequently.”

The QPR training came to Quinnipiac after Kerry Patton, the associate dean of student affairs for health and wellness, was awarded the Health and Wellness Education grant, for the purpose of bringing training like this to the student population.

With this grant, Reilly, who works closely with Patton, hopes to bring to the whole Quinnipiac population more initiatives, such as the Mental Health First Aid training, which helps to bring awareness and education on how to handle delicate situations.

Nearly 50,000 people died by suicide in the U.S. last year, the highest recorded number in history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 26,000 of those deaths involved a firearm.

In the same year, 388 people aged 10 years and older took their own lives in Connecticut, according to data published by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, following accidental injury, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The estimated number is around 1,100 suicides on college campuses per year.

In July 2022, the Suicide & Crisis Hotline transferred from the 10-digit number to a three digit 988 Lifeline. Texting or calling 988 connects people with trained counselors that provide free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling and connect them to other resources. It is available 24 hours, seven days per week across the U.S.

The Healthy Minds Study is an online survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health that specifically focuses on college student’s mental health. In October 2022, Quinnipiac University was one of the 400 colleges that participated in said survey.

According to the survey’s key findings, 14% of students surveyed had suicidal ideations, 6% actively planned for an attempt, 2% attempted and 29% indicated a non-suicidal, self-inflicted injury.

Among the surveyed students, 41% believe that most people would think less of someone who has received mental health treatment.

“Suicide is something no one wants to talk about, but it is something we all need to learn about,” Barney said. “It’s so stigmatized, that it makes it difficult for people to reach out for help when they need it.”

While there is no single cause for suicide, there are risk factors and warning signs which may increase the likelihood of an attempt. Learning them can save lives, per the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Reilly said Quinnipiac students should follow the @quwellness Instagram, to learn about more Health and Wellness initiatives.

“People aren’t alone in their struggles,” Barney said, “They just think they are because no one will talk about it.

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About the Contributors
Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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