Oct 212009
Authors: Lauren Leete

In the last year, the suicide rate has increased on CSU’s campus among students, faculty and staff.

With rising numbers, one would think Wednesday’s Q.P.R. session teaching preventative measures for suicide would have drawn a larger crowd than one Collegian reporter, a student event facilitator and a CSU counselor.

But, Pam McCracken, the director of Outreach and Prevention Services at the CSU Health Network, said limited participation at events focused on suicide is common because it’s an issue no one wants to discuss.

“I think we need to bring (the issue of suicide) out of the woodwork,” McCracken said. “It’s not just about suicide prevention; it’s about depression and anxiety.”

Q.P.R. stands for question, persuade and respond. The educational model, which teaches people how to help others suffering from suicidal tendencies, is based off of research on people who have attempted suicide and families whose loved ones were successful in suicide attempts.

McCracken said understanding these parameters teaches people to know what signs to look for and how to be bold in helping their friends or family who have suicidal thoughts.

Despite the miniscule crowd, McCracken quickly went through her presentation, covering statistics on suicide, the leading causes and the fundamentals of the Q.P.R method.

She said that 30 percent of CSU students surveyed within the past year admitted to being depressed and that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.

The major causes of suicidal thoughts stem from depression, anxiety, sudden changes in behavior, alcohol and substance abuse and more recently the economic crisis.

Suicide is not a distant issue for McCracken. She has worked with several suicidal students and has known families that have had children commit suicide.

One family, a close friend of hers, lost their daughter just before she graduated from high school. McCracken said the parents never saw it coming.

“She had a rope, brought it into her room and laid it on her bed. Her parents asked, ‘What’s the rope for?’ She said, ‘It’s for a science project. It doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to be here soon.'”

Her parents thought she was referring to leaving for college, McCracken said.

The cues are often times verbal or situational, but many parents, friends and family members don’t notice signs of suicidal thoughts until it’s too late, she said.

“Suicide is not the problem. It’s the solution to the problem,” McCracken said adding, “Untreated depression is.”

This issue is not only prevalent high schools and colleges, it’s hitting elementary schools just as hard.

“Children are committing suicide as young as 7 or 8. It’s sad,” McCracken said.

But, there’s hope to reduce the national suicide rate using the newly developed strategy Q.P.R., created by Paul Quinnett, a Ph.D. from Spokane, Wash.

Once the signs of potential suicide are recognized, a person can begin the method with questioning.

The questions can either be boldly stated or indirect, but McCracken said the main idea is not to rush judgment, allow the person to talk freely, ask the person in a private setting and take the risk to ask even when in doubt.

The next objective is to persuade them to stay alive, listen and give them undivided attention.

Finally, refer the person to someone they trust who can help them. McCracken said this could be the CSU Health Network, parents, spiritual leaders, siblings and friends.

“You can prevent (suicide), especially if you have an opportunity to intervene,” she said. “It’s basically putting hope back in their life.”

Staff Writer Lauren Leete can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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