By Montana Bass

Concerned Someone Is Suicidal? 

Asking Them Is The Best Practice.


According to the 2018 Healthy Minds survey, this is the percentage of students who have seriously considered attempting suicide. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. One of the key strategies for preventing suicide is building community capacity to identify and respond to people who are at risk. Luckily, these trainings — often called gatekeeper trainings — are offered here at Colorado College by the Wellness Resource Center. 

Heather Horton, Director of the WRC, will lead a two-hour “Question, Persuade, Refer” training beginning at 2 p.m. on the first Monday of Block 4, Nov. 18, in the Loomis Lounge. QPR is the most widely taught gatekeeper training in the world. 

An emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons, Paul Quinnett created QPR in 1995 with the intent to identify and interrupt the crisis and direct individuals towards proper care. The QPR workshop provides participants with an understanding of suicide and the skills and confidence to intervene to save a life.

Importantly, QPR deconstructs an oft-repeated myth in mental health narratives: that asking someone if they are planning on killing themselves might give them the idea. In reality, this is far from the truth. Asking someone directly if they are thinking about committing suicide is the best practice if you are worried someone may be considering. 

Aside from the high pressure of such a situation, much of the discomfort one might experience in asking this question stems from taboos surrounding mental health and suicide. Because of the stigma surrounding suicidality, it can be difficult to explicitly voice the concern that someone may be considering an attempt. However, this muscle is an important one to build. Our capacity to ask this question can be lifesaving in its potential to interrupt a suicidal person’s plan and connect them with resources. 

QPR is directly in alignment with the goals of the BADASS active bystander intervention campaign. BADASS seeks to increase participants’ understanding of challenges affecting individual and community wellness and develop skills for effective intervention. The WRC will be holding a BADASS training on second Monday of Block 4, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Gaylord Hall. 

If you have any questions about these upcoming opportunities, please email Also keep in mind that the WRC has an open-door policy. If you would like to discuss challenges related to mental health, whether for you or the people you support, don’t hesitate to stop by Worner 226. 

1 Comment

  1. —Because of the stigma surrounding suicidality,

    If I may: Because we are taught there is a stigma, we cause too many people to hide their feelings, when we could be encouraging them to seek help.

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