Training looks to help prevent suicides

Sharida Rejon, Features Editor

The Bakersfield College Student Health and Wellness Center hosted its first suicide prevention training session on April 2.

The method used in the session, referred to as QPR, is designed to train attendees to recognize the early warning signs of suicidal crisis and provides information on the appropriate steps to take when these signs are perceived.

Leigh Collins, the licensed clinical social worker who led the training session, said that QPR is “something everybody can use, and it’s intended to offer hope to the people that you know who may be suicidal.”

QPR, which stands for “question, persuade, and refer,” is a series of steps to help save lives, and attempts to break down the common opinion that suicide is a taboo topic.

“What our community did long in my opinion was that we didn’t really talk about it,” said Collins. “We were upset about our friends and we cried but they didn’t really gather us together and talked about suicide prevention, or our feelings or anything, and our parents didn’t really do that much and our schools didn’t do anything.”

According to Collins, one of the goals of QPR is to make it OK to ask the question if someone is suicidal if they are showing any signs.

“Suicide is really hard to talk about, but the best way for us to prevent it is to talk about it when we think that it might happen to someone we know,” she said. “We can definitely prevent some of those deaths.”

Collins explained that although getting professional counseling is helpful, the people close to a victim of depression are the best resource, and often the first response, to help toward the road to recovery.

“Honestly, in my opinion, a counselor is not as effective as a group of supportive people who really love someone,” she said. “You can do more than we [counselors] can to help a friend or family member.

“Talking about it actually makes them feel like you care about them. That decreases the likelihood that they’re going to complete suicide.”

Collins also said that one of the most common signs that a person is suicidal is when they constantly talk about their thoughts of completing the action.

“One of the biggest myths that I hear about suicide is that if somebody is going to do it, then they’re just going to do it, no matter what you say, which is actually not true,” said Collins. “Most people when they say they are thinking about taking their own lives and when they tell you they are depressed, they are actually asking for help, and most people, when they get help, do not go on to complete suicide.”

Lorre Webb, the social work intern at the BC Student Health and Wellness Center, says that it is important for people to know the guidelines for how to handle those situations. “It’s very likely that everybody who has known someone who has committed suicide, in hindsight, can go ‘oh yeah, I missed that,’ and this helps us prevent having to look at it from that side.”

Collins explained that in addition to listening to a possible victim’s issues and questioning if they are thinking about suicide, helping them make an appointment with a counselor or even walking them to a counseling center would be the next best step to help the victim recover.

“Your willingness to help can make all the difference in the world,” Collins said.

A second QPR suicide prevention training session will take place April 23.

For more information, or to reserve a seat, call the BC Student Health and Wellness Center at (661) 395-4336.