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Training rising for ‘CPR’ of suicide prevention

PARK CITY — The holidays are a time for joy and family, but for some, they can trigger depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

But a new training is helping Utahns detect struggles in our loved ones to prevent tragedy.

It’s the CPR of mental health. You’re keeping someone alive until professional help arrives.

“You’re providing hope to this person, and resources to this person, until we can get them in to see a mental health therapist.”

Summit County health educator Alyssa Mitchell teaches QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer.

“We tell people, if your gut tells you something is wrong, you need to ask the question.”

Mitchell knows asking if someone feels suicidal is awkward and tough, and embarrassing for the other person. But never fear.

“There’s actually a sense of relief in the person, when the question is asked. Somebody has finally cared enough to notice that they are suffering.”

Once Heidi Peterson with Utah’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health learned this, she immediately asked the question to a family member.

“The scariest part is those few moments where you’re waiting for the answer.”

Peterson’s relative admitted to thinking about suicide at times. He thanked her for asking.

“When we love someone enough to actually go there, and ask this question, we’re creating a beautiful safety to talk about life’s hard things.”

Summit County Health Dietician SaRene Brooks says her son’s friend admitted to him, via text messages, he wanted to die. Her son kept asking questions.

“He needed to continue this conversation with him as he tried to figure out how he could get some help to him, and get him to a safe place.”

Brooks tells us a one-hour QPR training prepares us for sudden crises, especially when we don’t recognize them as such.

“At the time, he didn’t realize he had been dealing with depression for quite some time.”

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call 800-273-TALK, and download the SafeUT app, for immediate resources.