What Parents Need to Know About Suicide – Part 4

ship of hopeDo you have a son or daughter who has been suicidal? Were you paralyzed about what to do? Did you think nothing would help? I have good news for you. There is something you can do that just might save their life. This post is the last in a series explaining a simple, easy-to-learn three-part process designed to help prevent death by suicide called QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer. It was developed by Dr. Paul Quinnett of the QPR Institue. You can read all about it on their website: qprinstitute.com

In this post I will explain the third step of QPR, Refer. If you suspect you are dealing with a suicidal person it’s highly recommended that you build a resource list of the help available in your area: Counselors/mental health providers, behavioral hospitals, the nearest hospital that accepts suicidal patients, a suicide hotline number, etc.  Being prepared can give you more peace of mind and a track to run on if and when you need it. You’ll know who you’re going to call, or where you’re going to take your loved one. This makes a huge difference in a crisis when you can’t think clearly due to the stress.

Dr. Quinnett says there are some general guidelines when you refer someone for help:

– The best referral is when you personally take the person you are worried about to a mental health provider or other professional.

– The next best referral is when the person agrees to see a professional and you know they actually went to the appointment.

– The third best referral is getting the person to agree to accept help, even if in the future.

The QPR institute reports that most people who agree to get help usually keep their word and do it, however, due shame and stigma, some will not. That is why it’s strongly recommended you physically take the person to someone who can help.  If you don’t know where to go call your doctor, a crisis hotline or your local hospital and ask for a referral. Some people want to talk to their own pastor/clergy, counselor – someone they know, rather than a stranger, to help them decide what to do. You could offer to go with them to see this person.

Save this number: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can call them any time of the day or night, 365 days of the year.  Give this number to your child, too.  Be sure they know they’re available 24/7 including holidays.

According to Quinnett, there are three things we need to be courageous – and it does take courage to apply the three steps of QPR:

1) Don’t worry about being disloyal.

2) Don’t worry about breaking a trust.

3) Don’t worry about not having sufficient information to call for help.

You’re trying to save your child’s life. Those things don’t matter at this point. If in doubt, take action.  Don’t wait! Do something! If you really aren’t sure, you can call the Suicide Lifeline number above and talk to a volunteer for guidance. It’s better for your child to be angry with you and be alive, right? You don’t want to have any regrets. One day they’ll forgive you, they may even thank you.

Immediately after applying the three steps of QPR it’s recommended you broaden the “safety net” for the person at risk.  Ask,“Who else would you like to know that you’re feeling this bad?” They may name a family member or friend. Ask for permission to call and let them know. Pull together a team of people who care about your child who will help build safety around them by checking on them regularly, asking how they’re doing, on the alert for warning signs (outlined in part one of this series) – a classmate, co-worker, roommate – someone who sees them on a regular basis.

Your child needs to know you care, you’ll be there for them and that you have hope for their future. Isn’t this what we all need in our dark times?

HOPE. It’s the key that can reduce the risk of  suicide. For me it comes from God.

God, please give our child hope. And us, too. None of us can go on with out it. We look to you as we surrender them to you. Their lives are in your hands.

“Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go . . . for you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord…”  (Psalm 71:3,5 NIV)



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