Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Karen Douglass, RN, Parish Nurse



We have all been shocked and saddened in the past few weeks by the suicides of two notable celebrities, Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain. Unfortunately, suicide is not uncommon and occurs in every social class, every culture and all age groups. As Lehman’s Parish Nurse, I was able to attend a training program to increase awareness of suicidal behaviors and how to respond appropriately. The following is an overview to provide what could be lifesaving information to our loved ones and church family.


Top Risk Factors for Suicide:

• Mental disorders such as depression, and some personality disorders

• Alcohol and other substance abuse

• Hopelessness

• Previous suicide attempt and family history of suicide

• Job, financial or relationship loss

• Stigma about seeking help, barriers accessing treatment


To prevent suicide, we must take the difficult step to acknowledge a person’s pain and lean into it, instead of leaning away. It is a courageous decision that can save a life!


QPR for Suicide Prevention

QPR consists of these three skills:

Question…. a person about suicide

Persuade… someone to get help

Refer… someone to the appropriate resource

QPR can save a life in much the same way that CPR can save the life of a heart failure victim. It is intended to be an emergency response to a psychological crisis.



The person we are concerned about may be offering verbal and behavioral clues about their hopelessness and thoughts about wanting to end their life. The most important step in QPR is asking the question, but also the most helpful. Some approaches: “Have you been very unhappy lately?” “Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?" “You know when people are as upset as you seem to be, they sometimes wish they were dead. Do you feel that way too?” “Are you thinking about suicide?” ASKING THE SUICIDE QUESTION DOES NOT INCREASE SUICIDE RISK. If you receive any responses that the person is thinking of suicide, you must act.



The goal of persuasion is simple – we want to encourage the person to agree to get help. This can involve helping the person to set up an appointment with a counselor, offering to go with the person to see a counselor, asking the person to agree not to harm him/herself until help is obtained, offering alternative treatments and solutions other than suicide.



Use these guidelines for effective referral:

• The best referrals are when you personally make an appointment and take the person to an appropriate professional for help.

• The second best referrals are those where you help make an appointment for the person so you can follow up later.

• The third best referral is getting the person to agree to get help, even in the future, and providing the information. If in doubt, reach out! If you personally have concerns about a person but don’t feel comfortable asking the suicide question, find someone who can and share your concerns and fears with them. Below is a list of available resources.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Mobile Crisis Support – Montgomery County: 1-855-634-HOPE Competent and caring crisis workers are available to help children, adolescents, adults and families through telephone and mobile support 24/7.

Peer Support Talk Line: 1-855-715-8255

Teen Talk Line: 1-866-825-5856   Text: 215-703-8411

If you are in need of IMMEDIATE help, call 911 or go to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital.


For more information, please see the QPR Institute.

*QPR is copyrighted by QPR Institute. All rights reserved.