Question, Persuade, Refer: Suicide prevention class offered from GPPSS

Rachel Strong '21, Staff Writer

This past school year has been extremely hard for most teenagers, resulting in many mental health struggles among students. In order to help teenagers better understand the warning signs of suicidal tendencies, the Grosse Pointe Public School System is offering a class called QPR.
“QPR stands for question, persuade and refer,” community organizer MaryJo Harris said. “(QPR) is a training that is done for anyone. It’s definitely (a class)that anybody can take and we refer to it as CPR training for mental health.”
According to Harris, the class teaches participants how to talk to someone, such as a friend, who may be going through a difficult time.
“When QPR originally started, it was just to help (with questioning) your friend about suicidal warning signs, but now it’s not just for detecting suicidal warning signs, it’s also for detecting if your friend is going through a more difficult time than they’re letting you know,” Harris said. “People tend to hide or try to hide their depression or anxiety. So this is a good way for anybody to learn what kind of questions you should ask a friend that you think may be really going through a hard time but they’re not.”
Harris said the training is about an hour long, and is given through the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.
“(QPR is) online; The class is like a Zoom ,” Harris said. “The nice thing about it is, depending on how many people are there, it can be interactive.”
Anna Dietz ’21 didn’t know what QPR was until she looked it up online, andshe now thinks that the organization is a great way for teens to learn about suicide prevention.
“I really wish I was more educated on suicide prevention,” Dietz said. “I think that this organization will be really helpful to teach teens about warning signs and how to help people that aren’t comfortable talking about it.”
According to Dietz, she has seen the effects of depression and anxiety first hand.
“I do know people who struggle everyday and I honestly never know how to handle those situations,” Dietz said. “Sometimes I get nervous to talk about it because I don’t want to somehow put the idea of suicide in someone’s head, but I think this training will make people more comfortable when the topic comes up.”
Kaitlyn Stafford ’21 said she knows what QPR is and wants more people to know what it is too.
“I think these classes are a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the signs of suicide prevention,” Stafford said. “This year has been very hard for a lot of people and having this class available through GPPSS might be very beneficial for someone that has a friend that is struggling.”
According to Harris, she thinks that right now is the best time to inform people about suicide prevention.
“Just one of the studies by the CDC found out of 54 people that were questioned, 25% of them had contemplated suicide in the previous 30 days,” Harris said. “It’s scary and I think it’s just more important now than ever to really make sure that friends are looking out for others.” Hopefully this training will help the kids across the Pointes to identify mental health concerns to help them get the resources they need.”