Introducing QPR Quick Quotes
As announced in the January 3, 2018, Wednesday Wisdom article,
alternate Wednesdays will now feature educational information about
suicide prevention produced by the QPR Institute and presented by the
Foundation for application to the corporate and industrial workplace.
Each article, in addition to the educational information, will include
stories which illustrate how lay (non-medically trained) individuals
have helped others, potentially preventing suicidal behavior, or at the
very least, helped relieve suffering of someone in distress. We will also
publish examples provided by family members, friends, and supervisors,
where death from suicide occurred, and those closest to them wish to
share what they learned that might help prevent suicide in the future.
More on the background on QPR Gatekeeper Program and the Family
Assistance Foundation relationship follows this week’s Quick Quote
The difficulty in understanding and preventing suicide is that while
more than 800,000 of us die by our own hand each year around the
world, we die individually; alone, in our bedrooms, motel rooms, cars,
or in wooded lots, or by leaping from buildings and bridges and trains
and ships. The rest of us can just take a quick notice and then glance
away – “Nothing here to see, folks, move along now.” But this is
changing. And changing quickly. And for the better. Our denial is
breaking down, and millions of us are stepping up to make the world
a safer place for those in so much pain suicide seems like
the only solution.
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
President and CEO, QPR Institute
Why I Believe in QPR: A Personal Story by Foundation’s
President and Co-Founder
-Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
Long before I ever met Dr. Quinnett or learned about QPR, I
experienced my own private battle with severe depression. I will
always be grateful to my manager, who stopped me one day and
questioned me about my personal life.
I began my career with an airline in the early seventies as a flight
attendant. Within seven months I became an instructor of line flight
attendants and less than one year later became the Senior Instructor
of emergency response for the airline's 5500 flight attendants. I was
responsible for maintaining our certificate with the FAA on flight
attendant readiness to respond to all emergencies on our fleet of aircraft,
including evacuating a fully loaded cabin in less than 90 seconds with
half of the exits blocked and unusable.
The quick advancement in my career was a stark contrast to the failure in
my personal life. About the same time I became the Senior Instructor for
flight attendant training for one of the largest airlines in the world, I
married the young man I had dated throughout college. I was fully aware
of the cultural differences in our backgrounds, but I had no idea how those
differences would be exacerbated as I came into my own as a young
professional woman. In short, I was a leader at work, but at home, I was
physically beaten by my husband.
The high self-esteem I experienced at work was continually eroded by the
physical trauma I sustained in the evenings and weekends away from
work. What often began with a slap on the face, frequently led to a
full-fledged beating. Throwing me to the ground and shoving me up against
walls became worse over time, resulting in less bruising to my face, but
more physical evidence on my arms and legs. I frequently dressed in
slacks and long sleeve blouses to hide the bruising and other physical
evidence of my secret.
In the second year of my job as head of flight attendant emergency
response training, and second year of my marriage, the stress of my
situation began to take its toll. I was too ashamed to tell my secret to
anyone that I knew. No one in the world knew about my home life other
than myself and the perpetrator. I wanted help but did not know how to
obtain it, while holding on to my job.
EAP programs like most companies have today were unheard of at the
time. The airline had one corporate psychiatrist on staff. But how could
I expose myself to someone in his position without putting my job on the
line? The head of the company at that time was former astronaut Col.
Frank Borman and all our work and medical standards matched his
expectations. There was no room for weakness in any one's life—let alone
one who had my level of responsibility. I could not imagine anyone
understanding why I stayed in this violent relationship—and I certainly
did not want anyone to know that the family I had married into had
clear connections with the mafia. I had heard more than one family
member say that divorce was not an option, no matter how bad
I longed for just one person to tell my secret to but felt that it had to be
a stranger, due to fear of losing my job. More than once I drove around
the parking lot of a major hospital, wanting to be admitted. I fantasized
about parking my car and entering the emergency room as a patient. But
I did not know how I would explain my ‘emergency’. I could see no future
for my life. I felt trapped in every sense of the word.
Near the end of 24 months of the hell I was living, I was relieved when
the gynecologist I saw for chronic pelvic pain chose to hospitalize me for
testing. My hope that this would result in my receiving the professional
help I longed for, was crushed when he entered the hospital room to share
the test results.
I can still remember how my feelings of isolation intensified when he told
me that the tests showed no physical basis for my problem. He explained
that the chronic pain was a result of emotional issues. And then the final
blow came when he said, “I know who your family is and I do not want
them to know that I gave you advice or tried to help you. I suggest you
seek help elsewhere." With that, he left the room, taking with him what
seemed my lifeline for the professional assistance I longed for.
After that I returned to work and tried to keep up. I thought I was doing
an adequate job of continuing the masquerade until one day my manager
called me into her office. "Shut the door behind you," she said as I
entered. I sat down and opened my notebook as I had assumed that she
was about to give me a work-related assignment. “You don’t need your
notebook,” she said. “This is not that type of conversation.”
I was surprised with what followed. She asked me what was wrong in
my life that was making me so unhappy. While at first, I denied any
problems, I quickly stopped lying when she began to tell me what she
had observed during the previous several months. Her comments about
my weight loss and other physical changes did not concern me, as I had
long ago lost interest in my outward appearance. What got my attention
was the mention of my work performance. The idea that the only thing I
valued and gave me any feelings of self-worth, my job, could now be in
jeopardy, forced me to tell the truth. I opened up about my secret. I told
her about the physical violence and why leaving the marriage was not as
easy as one might think.
If you have ever been seriously suicidal, and are reading this,
then you know that sunshine follows the rain.
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.
The fear that had paralyzed me for so long felt lighter after this one
conversation. Just knowing that someone else knew my secret and
despite the details, had not judged or shamed me was an undeniable
source of relief. While my manager never gave me advice, she assured
me that she would help me once I decided what I planned to do. For
the next few days, she checked with me daily to see how I was coping.
Shortly after this first conversation, she assisted me in finding a
counselor not associated with the airline. The counselor helped me
express and articulate a great deal more about my situation. In doing
so, he helped me understand the dangerous pit I was falling into and
what I needed to do to save myself.
To the counselor, I shared about the suicidal dreams that plagued me
and in part accounted for my insomnia. I shared with him that because
all joy in my personal life had already died, the threat of death was no
longer frightening to me. The counselor pointed out how dangerous it
was for me to think this way. He helped me address the cause of
these depressive thoughts while I was still capable of rational thought.
With his help, I came to understand that the despair I had grown
accustomed to could change, and in doing so I might someday
experience feelings of joy once again. In three sessions, the counselor
helped me find the courage to make choices that would allow me
to reclaim my life.
My supervisor and a couple of other women at work helped me devise
a plan of action for getting my life back on track. While it took a few
months to get the divorce, no one was more surprised than me when
the family’s attorney became part of the team who helped me. He took
my side and assisted me in breaking free of what I had once seen as
an impossible trap.
Many years later after completing my doctoral degree, I worked as a
clinical researcher on grant-funded studies of depression at Washington
State University, Spokane. I had the privilege to meet Dr. Quinnett. I
was fortunate to be trained on QPR when the program was just
beginning. Because of my own experience with depression and my
memory of how one conversation with a lay-person helped put me back
on track and saved my life, I knew this was a model that would work.
Fortunately, today, research on the QPR intervention has born this out.
Suffering is part of life, but we don't have to do it alone, or in silence.
If you have a story to share that you believe will help someone else,
please send an email to Stephen Young at the Foundation at
email@example.com, and we will contact you to explore ideas
about how we may use your story or experience to help others.
More about the QPR Institute and the relationship with
Over the past few years, several corporate members approached the
leadership team of the Family Assistance Foundation requesting
assistance with suicide prevention. Many of our corporate members either
come from the transportation industry (aviation companies, cruise lines,
rail companies, etc.), or at the very least, a part of their operations
involves their corporate aviation fleet. Managing the aftermath of
suicide in the workplace for transportation companies is not new.
However, the media attention associated with the Germanwings
tragedy, for many businesses, pushed the need for greater awareness
on prevention of death by suicide to the forefront.
In 2015, the Foundation entered into a memorandum of understanding
(MOU) with the QPR Institute, founded and directed by Dr. Paul
Quinnett, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Washington School
of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. QPR
Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention is a universal intervention
in the detection of those at risk for suicide, as well as those who may
not be at risk for suicidal behaviors, but may need assistance,
assessment, and treatment for any number of mental health issues
The basic QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention has been
taught to nearly 3 million people by more than 8,000 Certified QPR
Instructors in the US and other countries. The QPR program meets
the scientific requirements for listing in the National Registry of
Evidence-based Practices and Policies (NREPP).
While the QPR method was developed specifically to detect and
respond to persons emitting suicide warning signs, QPR has also been
more widely applied as a universal intervention for anyone who may
be experiencing emotional distress. Like the way the Foundation trains
employees to assist survivors in the aftermath of a workplace trauma,
the QPR model advocates a team approach where everyone who
interacts with a distressed individual has a role to play. While
traditional prevention programs may begin and culminate with a
referral to the company's employee assistance program (EAP) for
counseling support, QPR Gatekeeper training includes mental health
intervention and goes beyond that. Peers, co-workers, supervisors,
and family members are taught to recognize warning signs and risk
factors in those they interact with and instructs through role play
and actual case studies in how to assist an individual at risk in
obtaining professional help. This increases the effectiveness of
the entire intervention.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer. Gatekeeper refers to
the idea that there are those in everyone's life who interact with
individuals on a regular basis and are more inclined to recognize early
warning signs of depression, as my supervisor did, and offer help before
the situation becomes dire. In addition to the standard training model
that is used with all audiences, the Foundation has customized a
Gatekeeper Training for those who wish to learn how to apply this model
in their daily interactions with others, as well as Train-the-Trainer modules
for the aviation and cruise line industry. We have recently completed an
online version for onboard ship trainers in the cruise line industry. Other
customized programs are currently under development. If you would like
more information, please contact Stephen Young at
© 2018 QPR Institute Inc./Family Assitance Education & Research Foundation
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