Wellness Center hosts suicide prevention training for students

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the college age group, according to verywellmind.com and touches the lives of many young people. The UCCS Wellness Center will host free suicide prevention training in the next months.

The training will teach students to use an emergency mental health intervention practice called “Question, Persuade, Refer,” in 90-minute training sessions held once a month from October through December.

Lindsey Visscher, a student at UCCS and graduate assistant at the Wellness Center, is the lead facilitator for all QPR training for students, faculty and staff. “[QPR is] a standard suicide prevention practice,” Visscher said. “It really teaches people how to recognize suicide warning signs and what to do if they do notice that someone around them is thinking about suicide.”

Students can become proficient in QPR through just one session. The intervention is a dialogue-based practice that requires no prior experience to learn and consists of three main steps: questioning, persuading and referring.

“A lot of the time, if you encounter someone who is thinking about suicide, it can be really tough to overcome your own anxiety and uncomfortability about it,” Visscher said. “So if you can have those three steps to lean on and know, ‘OK, I need to question them if they’re thinking about suicide, I need to persuade them to get help, and then I need to refer them to that help,’ it can really assist those people in feeling more confident about having conversations.”

The program began in spring 2022 after Visscher and the Wellness Center staff saw a need for increased education on suicide prevention. “There was a lot of misinformation about where to go, or what to do, or who to refer to,” Visscher said. “We really wanted to have a standardization across campus so everyone’s speaking the same language [and] has the same knowledge.”

Visscher and the staff at the Wellness Center don’t plan on stopping here. There are plans to expand the program by increasing the frequency of trainings, and they are in the process of training additional staff members as QPR instructors.

Visscher believes this program is a worthwhile use of time and effort. “Suicide is a very uncomfortable topic and a lot of people, because of that uncomfortability, just won’t talk about it,” Visscher said. “Just being able to see the confidence and how empowered people feel leaving those trainings: it’s really rewarding.”

Students interested in registering for QPR training can visit the campus recreation portal at campusrec.uccs.edu. Alternatively, students can call the Wellness Center at 719-255-4444 or email Lindsey Visscher at [email protected].

Photo caption: Photo courtesy of Lindsey Visscher.