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Auburn University staff members recently participated in QPR, or Question, Persuade, and Refer, training for suicide prevention. QPR training teaches groups on how to properly intervene when they become aware of the signs or signals that someone is considering suicide, with a goal of identifying high-risk individuals without them having to ask for help.

“We don’t want to believe that there are members of the Auburn Family that contemplate suicide, but they do,” said Dr. Doug Hankes, director of Student Counseling Services. “It’s critical that we reach out to those family members and get them the help that they need.”

Mary Chandler Bolin, director of Student Counseling at the University of Kentucky and a master QPR trainer, implemented Auburn’s training, which included 28 university faculty and staff from every college and school.

“Question, Persuade, and Refer training is important because it could mean the difference in someone choosing suicide or getting referred for help,” said Eric Smith, director of Health Promotion and Wellness Services. “Since we are not able to predict when and where someone will exhibit a suicidal ideation, we are more prepared to respond effectively as QPR trained gatekeepers and potentially prevent a suicide attempt.”

QPR training focuses on the gatekeepers, which on Auburn’s campus can include faculty, academic advisors, law enforcement, public safety staff, supervisors, residence advisers, graduate assistants, advisers of student organizations and more. 

According to the training, the greater the percentage of members in any given community who are trained to recognize warning signs and refer those individuals to the proper resources, the fewer suicide related events should occur. Research shows that prior to making an attempt, 90 percent of people in a suicidal crisis give some kind of warning of their crisis or intent to those around them, and the person most likely to prevent someone from taking their own life is someone they already know.

The Concessions Board, chaired by Charlie Hendrix, professor of pathobiology, funded the training, which was co-sponsored by Health Promotion and Wellness Services and Student Counseling Services. To request QPR training for your department or office, send a request to QPR@auburn.edu.