Local students trained in suicide prevention

WEST CHESTER — 1475601648399On the morning of October 19, the entire ninth grade class in the West Chester Area School District was trained in the suicide prevention program called QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer). Designed much like CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, QPR is a nationally acclaimed program that teaches participants how to recognize warning signs of a suicidal crisis and how help.

The approximately 900 students at Henderson, West Chester East and Bayard Rustin High Schools participated in the QPR training while other grades were taking standardized tests. In the three schools, 38 certified QPR instructors, many of them volunteers or community stakeholders, paired up to deliver the program in the ninth grade homerooms. In one and a half hours, students learned basic steps to take when they are concerned about someone. Students also learned that asking someone about suicide will not put the idea in his/her head. Talking about it, may in fact, save lives.

Suicide is a national public health concern that has been on the rise for more than a decade. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with more Americans dying by suicide than dying in car accidents, and more than 117 people across the nation dying each day. Young people, who may be more impulsive and have less life experience, are at risk, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group.

The Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force (CCSP) collaborated with the West Chester Area School District to deliver the program. Other local groups, including Chester County’s Departments of Human Services and Mental Health, as well as the Chester County Intermediate Unit, the county Youth Center, Coatesville VA Medical Center, Brandywine Hospital and Valley Creek Crisis Intervention Center took part in the effort.

QPR has been extensively researched and proven effective. All instructors must be certified by the QPR Institute and abide by the program requirements. CCSP regularly offers QPR trainings for the Chester County community at no cost. To find out more, contact the organization at ccsptaskforce@gmail.com.

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