“Once you have been personally touched by suicide, it is no
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
As Death by Suicide Increases, We Must Train
-Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
This past week we learned that designer, Kate Spade, and well-known
celebrity chef, CNN Host, Anthony Boudain, both died by suicide. One
might say that everyone who ever purchased a Kate Spade designer bag
or learned about international, exotic foods and liquors from Chef Boudain,
have now been touched by suicide.
Those of us trained by the QPR Institute are aware that death by suicide
is increasing on a global basis. Just this past week, as we learned of the
deaths of these well-known individuals, the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) released updated information as to the growing
epidemic of death by suicide. According to the June 7, 2018, CDC
publication, Vital Signs, in 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older
died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of
the three leading causes of death that is on the rise.
In the June 7, 2018, report released by the CDC, researchers examined
state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016, and used 2015 data
from CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System which covered 27
states to look at circumstances of suicide among people with and without
known mental health conditions.
They found that more than half of the people who died by suicide did not
have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of the death.
Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse, physical health
problems, and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to
risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used
by those in the United States with and without a known diagnosed mental
health condition. Suffocation, including hanging, was the next
most-common method, followed by poisoning.
In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and
sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior. Suicide
rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience
On a global level, the World Health Organization reports that every 40
seconds someone dies by suicide. Global suicide methods include
ingestion of pesticide, hanging, and firearms, and in China, jumping from
lethal heights must be included. While the link between suicide and
mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is
well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen
impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal
with life stressors, such as financial problems, a relationship break-up or
chronic pain and illness.
QPR Gatekeeper Training
QPR Gatekeepers are trained to recognize these signs of distress early
in a co-worker, friend or relative and to “befriend” the person in order
to prevent suicide. Deborah M. Stone, author of the recent CDC study
quoted in the June report stated, “Our data suggests suicide is more than
a mental health issue.” She further states that friends, families, and
co-workers should not overlook the risk of self-harm among people who
have never been diagnosed with mental illness. Trained family members,
co-workers, and others in a distressed person’s circle can often offer
practical assistance and support, in addition to helping find professional
"The problem with the notion of hotlines is that we assume the
severely suicidal, high-risk person will call prior to making a
suicide attempt. QPR is premised on just the opposite notion
that those most at risk will not call. Rather, we have to go to them.
We can only go to them if somebody already close at hand, tells
us help is needed."
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
Other experts reviewing the recently published study and interpreting the
results advised that suicide hotlines by themselves are no longer the
answer. The need to focus on things that reduce stress on families, and
that includes economic assistance, jobs and access to education were
listed as a few of the practical approaches to helping people in despair.
The QPR Institute’s Gatekeeper Model is designed to empower friends,
families, and co-workers to notice changes in behaviors, attitudes, and
other indicators that the person may be at risk for harming themselves.
Comments by other experts in the article support the practical nature of
the Gatekeeper model. “We really have to focus on what’s going on in
the people’s lives that’s driving so many to such desperate acts.” “We
need to focus on things that reduce stress on families, and that includes
economic assistance, jobs, and access to education”. Both these
comments came from Dr. Steven H. Woolf, a Virginia Commonwealth
University Physician. QPR Gatekeepers are trained to look for ways to
offer assistance to those who need help with practical assistance, as well
as, emotional support during difficult times.
How to become a QPR Gatekeeper or Gatekeeper Trainer:
Anyone can learn more about how to recognize signs that someone is in
need of extra support and attention—and to develop an awareness that
someone may be at risk for harming themselves. And most importantly,
Gatekeepers are trained on what to do about their concerns. The QPR
Institute (www.qprinstitute.com) offers online, as well as, in-person
classes throughout the world. The Family Assistance Education & Research
Foundation also offers classes, specifically tailored for the workplace.
Information about Foundation Gatekeeper Training as well as
Train-the-Trainer courses for those who wish to train Gatekeepers in their
organization can be found on the website fafonline.org. The Foundation
also has trained corporate leaders who will provide references as to the
effectiveness of the program within their own organizations, and how they
are implementing training to all employees on how to be a Gatekeeper.
Upcoming Gatekeeper Trainings
Miami Gatekeeper Training
Hyatt Place Miami Airport East, June 20, 2018
Atlanta Gatekeeper Training
Courtyard Atlanta Airport North, September 27, 2018
QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer and is a research-based
intervention that anyone can learn. The Foundation works with the QPR
Institute to customize this successful intervention for cruise lines,
aviation, human resources professionals and other workplace groups.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the Foundation if you would
like to know more about how you can learn to be a QPR Gatekeeper in your
organization. You can also learn how you can become a certified trainer
of the QPR Gatekeeper model. Contact the Foundation to discuss your
© 2018 QPR Institute Inc./Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation
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