Natalie Deering: This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, learn how QPR could help save a life

We’re all fairly familiar with CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and how it can save a life by doubling or tripling a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. But are you also familiar with QPR and how it can potentially save lives with suicide prevention? QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer and comes from the QPR Institute ( whose mission is to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training.

Because discussion of suicide and its implications is often avoided in our culture, it is important to know a few facts. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

• Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the US
• In 2020, 45,979 Americans died by suicide
• In 2020, there were an estimated 1.20 million attempted suicides

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Natalie Deering is a psychotherapist and owner of ND Wellness Psychological Services in Northern Kentucky. Visit their website at

What does QPR stand for?

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, the three simple steps anyone can learn to save a life. Individuals trained in QPR learn to recognize the warning signs of a suicidal crisis and learn to question, persuade, and refer someone for help. QPR can be learned in just one hour on the Gatekeeper course. You can register for the course here (

How is QPR like CPR?

Both CPR and QPR are part of systems designed to increase the chances of surviving in a crisis. QPR is an emergency psychosocial intervention for suicidal people, created by Paul Quinnett in 1995. An acronym for “ask,” “convince,” and “transfer.” The intention is also to identify and interrupt the crisis and refer that person to the proper care they need at that time.

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How does QPR follow the chain of survival?

1. Identify suicide early: The sooner warning signs are recognized and help sought, the better the outcome of a suicide crisis. QPR helps teach others what these warning signs look and sound like to others.

2. Early QPR: Asking someone about suicidal thoughts and feelings opens a conversation that may lead to a referral for help. QPR training courses help participants practice and feel comfortable with this often-avoided question.

3. Early intervention and referral: Referral to local resources or calling 1-800-273-TALK for evaluation and possible referral is critical. QPR training also often provides attendees with local resources for referral resources.

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Early Extended Life Support: As with any disease, early detection and treatment lead to better outcomes.

I was trained as a QPR Instructor while working as a psychotherapist at a university counseling center and we have successfully trained hundreds of students, faculty and staff to become QPR Gatekeepers. QPR offers people the opportunity to learn and discuss the difficult and often dreaded topic of suicide in a safe setting. The most important lesson I have learned from my many experiences educating others in suicide prevention is that simply by offering hope, either through social and/or spiritual support, a life can be saved. We can do this together by helping others feel that they are not alone in their darkest times.

For more information about QPR and how to get training, please visit the QPR Institute at

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