Counseling Center to train students in suicide prevention

Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu

Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu

Marquette’s Counseling Center is taking strides to help students identify people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts in order to decrease their risk of self-harm. Suicide is the second-largest killer of college students nationwide, according to a study by the American College Health Association.

Hoping to raise awareness to the issue, the center is holding an event called “Question, Persuade, Refer” today at noon in Alumni Memorial Union room 254. QPR is a nationally recognized suicide prevention program training participants to identify and intervene with someone contemplating suicide.

Nicholas Jenkins, the mental health advocacy coordinator at the Counseling Center, said the training provided by QPR can help students deal with situations that may arise in their everyday lives.

“By learning how to acknowledge the risks and warning signs, we have the potential to help our friends, fellow classmates, students and colleagues prior to someone attempting suicide,” Jenkins said.

Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin in 2009 found that 18 percent of undergraduates and 15 percent of graduate students have contemplated suicide at some point in their lives. Jenkins said there are 1,100 confirmed suicides on college campuses annually.

“What makes suicide prevention training so important is that people will seek help or display warning signs to friends, family, teachers or colleagues prior to coming into counseling,” Jenkins said. “Knowing how to respond to a person who may be suicidal greatly increases the chance of that person getting better.”

Paul Quinnett, president and CEO of the QPR Institute, said QPR is the mental health emergency equivalent to CPR.

“It can be learned in 90 minutes, taught to anyone and will work with just about everyone considering suicide,” Quinnett said. “QPR is a skill every teenager and adult should have, and our aim is to train at least one adult in every family in America.”

Besides teaching students to identify and intervene in potential suicide situations, Quinnett said. QPR will also help prevent murder-suicides and mass murder-suicides.

The training is free, Jenkins said, and has been offered at Marquette twice a semester since 2006. The counseling center also offers private QPR training for groups of 10 or more.

“The structured training for QPR means we were able to have several people trained in providing QPR to the population here at Marquette,” Jenkins said. “It is personally rewarding for me to be able to provide a much-needed training to the Marquette community.”

Jenkins said the Counseling Center is working to provide more treatment options to Marquette students.

“One of those options was the expansion of groups offered at the counseling center, which included our Taking Action groups for those who have issues with mood, stress or relationship concerns, as well as Happiness Groups that help students increase their sense of happiness,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the counseling center believes addressing happiness and positive psychology has significant impacts on overall well-being.

Jenkins said the most important thing people should know about suicide prevention is to get the person having suicidal thoughts to seek treatment immediately. The counseling center is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and also has a 24-hour crisis line, Jenkins said.

“I encourage people who are concerned about their friends, students or family members to also call if you have any questions or concerns,” Jenkins said.

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