Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 3, 2017

It's Okay to ask for help

Students Learn About Suicide Prevention

Maddie Jo Shultz

Individuals trained in CPR can save a life. Attendees at the suicide prevention seminar learned that a process known as QPR can save a life, as well.

Students who chose to attend this presentation were asked to imagine themselves in a situation where they might have to use the QPR method, which was created by Paul Quinnett, Ph.D. “You’re driving across a bridge when you see someone standing at the railing, about to jump,” a speaker told the audience. “You stop your car, get out, and go over to them. What do you say? What do you do?”

Speakers were Ted Westerhof, Public Relations and Marketing Manager for Bowen Center, and Shelly Snyder, director of the Huntington County branch. “Shelly and I have different functions but the same goal,” noted Ted, who has worked for the Bowen Center for 23 years. Bowen is more than just a counseling center, he says. It is also a hospital, and a result of the community responding to a major issue in the area. Indiana is one of the highest rated states for teen suicides. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24, just under unintentional injury.

“Everyone carries secret struggles,” Ted explained. “Don’t ask yourself what you do; ask why you do it.”
Although some students attended the seminar merely to attain VIA credit, for others the suicide prevention topic had personal significance. Ethan Winter shared with the group that, in high school, his best friend committed suicide.

What Ted and Shelly emphasized the most was that suicide is to be taken seriously.  “Something we hear a lot is that someone is ‘doing it for attention.’ Even if that’s just that, it’s playing with fire,” Ted said during the seminar. “We need to be trauma-informed: understanding not just what’s wrong, but how it affects you.”

As part of its community outreach program, the Bowen Center has also begun to train local school faculty in QPR – question, persuade, refer. Ask a question, save a life. Brochures given to attendees outlined the process of QPR. Question: ask the person about suicidal thoughts. Persuade: convince the person to get help. Referral: refer the person to a professional who can help them. QPR is part of student orientation at the Tippecanoe Valley school corporation, and Ted hopes to eventually start training sessions at Manchester University. 

“Manchester [University] has been recognizing the quality of life and supporting mental health,” Ted added as a final thought. “The big question is, what can we do as a community to spread the word about getting help?”