QPR for Businesses and Corporations
Overview of the problem
Smart businesses have embraced physical and psychological wellness programs as cost-effective strategies to achieving corporate goals. While youth suicide may draw the headlines, most people who die by suicide are working people. Some of these people work for you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the American Association of Suicidology, approximately 11 out of every 100,000 Americans die each year by suicide, or approximately 30,000 persons per year. In their recent Reducing Suicide, a National Imperative, the prestigious Institute of Medicine calculated the economic cost of suicide to society to be “$11.8 billion (in 1998 dollars).”
The cost of serious medical injury from non-fatal suicide attempts, including life-long disability, has never been fully calculated anywhere. Even the number of suicide attempts requiring emergency medical care is unknown. While employees who die by suicide may not strain the health benefit system, some of those who make non-fatal suicide attempts can incur both short and long term medical costs of dramatic proportion. If in doubt, ask any experienced HR director or benefits manager.
For corporate America it is critical to understand that suicide claims a disproportionate number of lives between ages 25 to 60. Most of these are men. This is our work force. If you are a CEO of even a medium sized company, then you may have already lost one or more employees to suicide. And, unless you are very fortunate indeed, you will likely have lost a friend or someone you knew on a first name basis to suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 8 million Americans have lost a blood relative to suicide.
To address this problem, in June 2003 the University of Rochester’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide held a national consensus conference in Washington DC on preventing suicide among men in their middle years (ages 25 to 54). In attendance were several major US corporations, leadership from the National Institutes of Health, the US Air Force, Employee Assistance Society of North America, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as well as researchers and representatives of the healthcare industry. Keynoters highlighted a stark and alarming fact: men in their middle years kill themselves at twice the baseline rate of other Americans. With few exceptions, these men are working for American institutions, companies and corporations.
Awareness before action
Our first challenge is to raise awareness. Few business or corporate leaders have viewed suicide as a preventable fatal outcome of untreated disorders of mood or substance abuse. Fewer still have viewed employee suicide as having a direct, bottom line negative impact to the company’s investment in its human capital. Not surprisingly - and due to the stigma associated with the word suicide - this now - understood link between untreated depression, substance abuse and suicide is often overlooked in the health awareness and health education programs offered to leadership, HR staff and employees.
This is a serious “disconnect” in our understanding of what causes suicide, as more than 90% of those who die by suicide are suffering from quite treatable mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders. Once this disconnect is repaired, positive action can follow.
Developing social policy
In the recently released President’s Freedom Commission on Mental Health, suicide prevention is listed as the top priority. The Commission strongly supports the implementation of the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001). In turn, the National Strategy specifically targets employers as important players in the prevention of suicide. Goal 4, Objective 4.4 of the National Strategy states, “By 2005, increase the proportion of employers that ensure the availability of evidence-based prevention strategies for suicide.” The report further states, “It is in the interest of employers to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviors. Finally, “A suicide in the family of an employee may result in such grief that the employee becomes incapacitated.”
What you can do
First, it is essential that business and corporate leadership understand that suicide is preventable. According to the Surgeon General of the United States it is our “most preventable form of death.” As proof, the US Air Force has recently published a major review of its highly successful suicide prevention program in the British Medical Journal, in which not only were suicide rates reduced by 33% over a six year period, but other forms of violence also decreased dramatically, e.g., homicide by 52%, and domestic violence by an average of 30%.
Once it is understood that suicide and other forms of violence are preventable, education and action are needed. We are, all of us, very much in a race between education and tragedy.
The question has been raised, “If awareness and education about this problem can save lives, where should such education take place?”
Our answer: Just as schools are the venue for youth suicide prevention training, we believe the workplace can become the venue for suicide prevention training for employed adults. Suicide prevention training can be added to depression screening and provided in as little as one-hour health awareness classes by QPR Institute trained instructors, or through our QPR on CD-ROM interactive web-enabled program.
The QPR Institute
Several faculty of the QPR Institute have extensive experience in providing consultation, training and clinical services to businesses and corporations. We understand this environment and the needs of employers. We also offer the only evidence-based general systems approach to depression awareness, screening and suicide prevention gatekeeper training for defined communities, including large corporations.
As implemented in a variety of settings, the QPR Suicide Risk Reduction Program for businesses and corporations addresses all of the links in the Chain of Survival (adapted from CPR/cardiac survival literature). These four links include the following:
- Awareness and recognition of depression and suicide warning signs.
- The application of QPR.
- Intervention, initial evaluation and referral by in-house clinical professionals or EAP contractors.
- Ready access to competent professional assessment and treatment.
We have developed and tested the education and training components required to establish competency in each of these areas of response. Our Suicide Risk Reduction Program has been successfully installed in the largest non-profit mental health system in the world. The Devereux Foundation has 5,000 staff in 27 major facilities in 14 states with a daily census of 17,000 active at-risk patients. Research and evaluation reported by Devereux staff found excellent outcomes over four years, with significant reductions in suicidal behaviors by patients and staff. The program has been featured as a “best practices” model by the American Psychiatric Association for enhancing patient safety.
As a means to further public policy we are prepared to offer suicide prevention education and training to a stressed segment of society: working people. We are also very interested in examining outcomes and conducting evaluations of QPR for Businesses and Corporations, and have partnered with several universities to assist in this work.
For a complimentary access to our QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Online as well as other literature, please contact us.
Partial Customer List:
- Albuquerque Public Schools
- American Association of Suicidology
- American Psychiatric Association
- Andrews Air Force Base
- Bureau of Emergency Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Devereux Foundation, Inc.
- Eli Lilly & Company
- Fairchild Air Force Base
- Jewish Family Services
- Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group
- State of Alaska Dept. of Corrections
- Utah State Dept. of Education
- Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado
- TN Suicide Prevention Network
- State Departments of Health in AK, AL, CA, NV, NM, MN, MO, GA, WA, WI and others
- More than 130 major universities in the United States, Canada and Australia