QPR for Colleges and Universities
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1995, 10% of college students admitted to having suicidal thoughts during the 12 months preceding the survey. These students came from both two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities. Seven percent said they had made a suicide plan, 2% had attempted suicide at least once, and 0.4% had made a suicide attempt that required medical attention.
In a more recent article in the Journal of American College Health in 2000, Barrios and colleagues reported that what begins as suicide ideation ends with suicide as the third leading cause of death among the college-aged population. These researchers also noted that the first and second leading causes of death (unintentional injury and homicide), may also be linked to suicide ideation.
In yet a third article published in 2009, Arria and her colleagues report a suicide ideation rate of 6% among first year college students, and that depression alone did not account for this phenomenon (abstract). Realizing that there are situations other than clinical depression that may produce suicidal thoughts and feelings is an important contribution the stresses of student life.
Those who study suicide among college students note a “clustering” of injury-related high risk behaviors in young people and, as a result, campus-based prevention programs should aim to reduce and mitigate all known risks factors comprehensively, rather than focus on a single set of behaviors.
As an example, excessive alcohol consumption is at once a risk factor for suicide and self-injury, and also a frequently listed suicide warning sign (www.suicidology.org). Alcohol abuse, independent of symptoms of depression, accounts for much of the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and even conflicts with parents, relationship losses, and isolation contribute to suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Asking someone in distress who appears at risk of self-injury to acknowledge or deny they are in trouble is the QPR intervention. The Q in QPR is the “clarifying question” to determine if risk is present.
The QPR intervention has been recommended as a potentially broader and more comprehensive intervention for a wider range of possible problems, including interpersonal conflicts or losses, alcohol or substance abuse, eating disorders, as well depression accompanied by suicidal ideation.
A symptomatic, at-risk student may be identified by the QPR intervention who is, while not suicidal, still in need of evaluation and possible treatment. Thus, early detection of emergent mental health crises can be identified, students assisted, and, with counseling and treatment, the probability of continued enrollment is improved.
Broad QPR training – ideally everyone on campus – enhances surveillance and early detection of at-risk students, staff and faculty. For a brief review of the QPR intervention model and rationale, click here.
In specific response to the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention published 2001, the QPR Institute addressed the following Goal 4 objective:
Increasing the number of evidence-based suicide prevention programs in schools, colleges and universities, work sites, correctional institutions, aging programs, and family, youth, and community service programs.
In addition to training and certifying more than 7,000 instructors to teach QPR to more than one million people in the US alone, QPR is now taught on more than 300 college and university campuses in the US, Canada, and abroad.
QPR Training Options
Classroom: QPR is most often taught in small, traditional classroom settings by a Certified QPR Instructor trained by the Institute. Trainees are provided 90 minutes to 2 hours of standardized instruction, a hard copy handout booklet and card, and an opportunity to practice and rehearse the intervention and referral system.
Online: QPR is also taught online through an interactive multimedia program which requires learner participation, passing an examination, and which includes free depression screening for the student, a free e-book, and a 3-year unlimited access license to the program.
Blended: Many campuses now blend QPR online training with follow-on traditional classroom sessions led by Certified QPR Instructors or counseling department staff, thus enhancing learner experience and retention of the intervention and reinforcing campus referral resources and networks.
In an ideal word, QPR would become part of freshman orientation, mandatory of all employees, and embedded into the health and safety fabric of campus life. Parties interested in this option may explore it here.
Campus customization – a community approach
Colleges and Universities are communities. Therefore, a community-based approach is highly desirable and can be highly effective.
To accommodate the desire for a customized “look and feel” for each college or university, the QPR Institute encourages:
- Co-branding of the QPR program
- Customization of colors, logo, and language in training materials
- Customization of crisis and emergency response systems
- Allowing student credit for QPR training as a class assignment
- Integration of QPR training into existing prevention education programs
For more information about pricing and purchasing, click here
Thank you for your time.
The Staff and Faculty of the QPR Institute
The QPR Institute embraces a systems approach to organizational suicide risk reduction, error prevention, and patient/consumer/student safety. We model our work and recommendations on the research and publications of Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe regarding the nature and function of high reliability organizations (HROs) where, if something goes wrong, people die. Their safety studies of nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers, hospitals, and other high-risk work environments have helped organizations become more resilient in learning to identify and manage unexpected risks. A student suicide, or a student murder-suicide, is an “unexpected event” that leads to a “brutal audit” of what went wrong in a setting leadership believed to be a safe and secure.
- Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty, (John Wiley & Sons, 2007),