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In suicide prevention, experts urge constant referral for help

PARK CITY — These past two days, KSL Newsradio has talked about QPR training to deal with depression and suicide ideation. “Q” stands for question. “P” stands for persuade. “R” stands for refer.

You’ve asked the question if someone is troubled. Then, you’ve persuaded that person to get help.

“It’s now time to figure out what that help is going to look like,” said Summit County health educator Alyssa Mitchell.

She says we “refer” someone for help by taking the person in crisis to a hospital or clinic.

“Maybe at Valley Behavioral Health,” Mitchell said. “Some of them do offer crisis appointments on a daily basis.

“Or taking them to a family member, or somewhere they’re going to be safe.”

Sometimes, the person just needs a phone number or website to access, or to just give a promise to seek help.

But, “If somebody has a plan to attempt suicide, and the means to attempt suicide, that good faith commitment is probably not the best option,” Mitchell said.

Heidi Peterson with Utah’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health worked on behalf of her struggling family member.

“Often, these people don’t feel that they have the strength to find a qualified professional on their own, or to make a phone call,” she said. “So we may need to do some of those things for them.”

Sometimes, they’ll resist the help, but Peterson says, don’t give up.

“Let them know that you can see that it’s a hard thing that they’re going through, that you’re not trying to pretend that it’s not there, or that it’s an easy fix,” she said.

Summit County Health Dietician SaRene Brooks, who has had QPR training, says her son couldn’t get to his struggling friend fast enough.

So, over the phone, he told him “To get in his car and drive to where his fiancee was working,” Brooks said. “He was able to have a conversation the fiancee, and explain the situation and the conversation he had just had with him.”

She got her fiance to counseling, and saved his life. They’re married now.

“He has never had any problems with suicide since then,” Brooks said.

Summit County has taught 1,000 people through 65 QPR trainings this year, which are available for churches, schools, veterans and more.

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