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The City Journals

Suicide prevention training held in South Jordan

Dec 03, 2018 09:20AM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Lisa Carter trains community members at the South Jordan Fire Department. (Jennifer Gardiner/City Journals)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected] 

Utah ranks fifth in the nation for highest number of suicides and is now the leading cause of death for children aged 10–17. There is no doubt the manner in which suicides have sharply been increasing has gripped our state with fear, but it has also created an outpouring of support and determination to find a solution. 

The South Jordan Police Department recently partnered with Heath South Jordan QPR (Questions, Persuade, Refer) Institute to provide training for the community on learning specific warning signs and how to react to situations that could end up saving someone’s life. 

Lisa Carter, a trainer with Healthy Riverton said she first received her training by Hope for Utah two years ago to become a QPR gatekeeper and trainer. 

“The QPR institute is based in Spokane, Washington, and has collaborated with Hope for Utah to put together a suicide prevention training that is done across the United States,” said Carter. “Thousands and thousands of people have taken this training, and it is all based off the QPR institute’s materials.”

Carter said the institute keeps the material updated and trainers receive communication from QPR to let them know if things have changed or to give them updated statistics and information, but they also rely on the Utah Department of Health and the Salt Lake County Health Department to give regional stats, too. 

“Our target audience is the communities that we live and work in, and businesses and schools,” said Carter. “We are building a community of ‘Hope Squads,’ which is currently in our high schools and is now being implemented in middle and elementary schools.” 

Carter said the training people receive is exactly the same training that those involved in Hope Squads receive. 

“This is a community-based hope squad in an effort to train citizens to know what signs to look for to see if someone is in a suicidal crisis and know how to respond,” said Carter. “We encourage others to go through the training to help identify verbal, behavioral and situational clues to determine if they are in crisis or not and then to persuade them to work with you to get some help and then refer them.”

Hope Squad members are trained to identify and refer potentially at-risk youth to school counselors. Peers refer these young people, and they become the eyes and ears of the schools in identifying troubled or at-risk youth and how to take action to prevent suicidal behavior.

When it comes to approaching someone you think could be considering suicide, Carter said it’s best to always be direct. 

“Ask them a direct question to get a direct answer such as, ‘Have you thought about killing yourself?’ or ‘Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?’” said Carter. “You can do it indirectly too if necessary by saying something like, ‘Have you thought about just not waking up?’”

QPR Institute’s mission is to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. Believing that quality education empowers all people, regardless of their background, to make a positive difference in the life of someone they know.

One can learn the QPR Gatekeeper course in as little as one hour. A gatekeeper is described as someone in a position to recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide.

Gatekeepers can be anyone, including  parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, office supervisors, squad leaders, foremen, police officers, advisers, caseworkers, firefighters and many others who are strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide.

The training provides the general public with the education necessary to know the warning signs of a suicide crisis: expressions of hopelessness, depression, giving away prized possessions, talking of suicide, securing lethal means. The training then teaches students  how to respond.

Millions of citizens have been trained in QPR. The institute would like to reach a goal of one in four persons trained as a basic gatekeeper for suicide prevention in the United States and in other countries. 

Go to to learn more about QPR.