Are you a parent who has been worried out of your mind that your son or daughter may be thinking about taking their life? Does it torment you that you don’t know for sure if they’re in danger? Did you know that depression is the number one cause of suicide? Have you been baffled by what to do to keep your child safe – other than locking them in their room and keeping a 24/7 vigil over them? I’ve been there and I know it’s one of the worst feelings a parent could ever experience. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
This is part three of a series on suicide – the warning signs and the QPR method for Suicide Prevention that was developed by the QPR Institute: qprinstitute.com This is the work of Dr. Paul Quinnett. Please read part one and two of my blog posts to familiarize yourself with the warning signs, and the first step of this method of prevention, “Question”.
QPR is an acrostic for: Question, Persuade, Refer. In this post I will explain the Persuade step. You can read more about this life-saving technique on the QPR Institute’s website mentioned above.
Persuade – This step begins with the simple act of listening. Listening well can save a life. It’s the greatest gift you can give your child. Avoid giving advice, instead do these things: Give your full attention; don’t interrupt; don’t be in a hurry; don’t make judgements or condemn, and tame your own fear so you can focus on the other person. Not easy to do.
After asking the “S” question – “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” – listen for the problems they believe their death would solve. Confirm your guesses and suspicions with follow-up questions. If they nod their heads or say”yes”, then, as unlikely as it may seem, you have helped them to find a way to live. The goal of persuasion is to hear confirmation of your suspicions and then to get help.
A yes to any of these questions is success for this step:
“Will you go with me to see a counselor?” (or priest, rabbi, school counselor, school nurse, psychologist, or whatever kind of professional they are willing to see).
“Will you let me help you make an appointment with…?”
“Will you promise me …?” (Not to kill yourself until this works?”) Often they won’t follow through because they feel so helpless and hopeless. That’s why it’s a good idea to get the person to agree to go on living.
Say something like, “I want you to live. Won’t you please stay alive until we can get you some help?” It’s reported that making the promise not to hurt or kill oneself, but to go on living, tends to bring relief and the fulfillment of that promise. Dr. Quinnett says the response is almost always a yes. The power of the relationship you have with your son or daughter (or whoever it might be) is the key.
But what if they say no? You can still do something. Refusal doesn’t mean QPR failed. You now know they are in danger and you can take action. As of today the laws of our country say it is not allowed for an individual to die by suicide. It is not an acceptable solution for life’s problems. They have made provisions to help keep suicidal people alive and protect them from themselves.
If you are concerned your child is at risk for suicide call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24/7 source of help.
In my next post I will explain the third and final step, Refer.
Father, please comfort every person reading this who knows and cares about someone who is feeling suicidal today, especially if it’s their son or daughter.
Give them courage to ask the “S” question and engage in the persuade process. Use them to bring relief to a hurting soul. Breathe life and strength into their own souls. Stay close to them while they endure the most difficult days of their lives. Thank you for how much you care about all your children.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.