A Profile of Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee
Creating Awareness One QPR Training at a Time
Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee is a coalition of volunteers who represent local suicide prevention agencies, as well as the general community with its mission to reduce the number of attempted and completed suicides that take place within the community. They do this by facilitating community collaborations, raising awareness, and providing educational opportunities and support
Dr. Barbara Moser is a family practice physician and the chair of PSGM since January 2016. She worked at Norris Health Center University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for 23 years, and was responsible for health promotion, mental health, outreach and advocacy on campus.
“With all of these activities on campus, I became very involved with the suicide prevention and mental health community,” Moser said.
This coalition educates the community about suicide prevention by going to churches, schools and community centers. One tool that is taught by PSGM is a training program called QPR: Question Persuade Refer. It teaches people the possible warning signs of individuals who are at risk of suicide.
People who are at risk are those who abuse drugs or alcohol, talk about suicide or a desire to die, withdraw from friends and family, or feel trapped. It could even be someone who has the feeling of hopelessness, and feel as if they are living without a purpose.
“We encourage cross-promoting events between organizations so that we promote each other, as well as share stories of lived experience of suicide or those who maybe work with those who are suicidal or has been suicidal themselves, or even a family member who has experienced suicidal behavior,” Moser said. “That is how you change people’s attitudes and how people act towards people with mental health. You only know those who are suicidal by getting to know them.”
Dr. Lee Za Ong, an associate professor and director of the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Concentration at Mount Mary University, is a certified trainer of the QPR method. She teaches the public how to use this method, as well as trains those who want to learn how to perform the QPR tool on others.
“I use Question Persuade Refer technique on my students who may have negative thoughts about themselves or suicidal ideation,” Ong said. “QPR trains you to speak to people in a straightforward way. One of the question we ask is pretty simple: ‘Do you feel like you are going to kill yourself?’ The student may say yes, then I do further assessment.”
Ong likes to use QPR on her students, and even in her own house. She teaches her children and her children teach their friends.
“You don’t have to have a degree, or have to be a counselor in order to use QPR, anyone can use it,” Ong said. “Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee’s philosophy is believing that one person committing suicide is too many. Our goal is zero suicide deaths. If we can get this skill out, people can be a gatekeeper and that would be the perfect goal to have.”
Bryanna Sanders, a Mount Mary University student majoring in Writing for New Media, attended a QPR suicide prevention program taught by Moser at Mount Mary, and there was a period when students were ask to role play an act of two individuals who were given a scenario of one person who was giving signals of possible suicide ideation. The other person had to imagine that she was a friend or coworker in their life at that moment, and had to learn how to ask if the person is contemplating suicide.
“It was hard for me to role play because of what I had experienced in the past with my mom contemplating suicide,” Sanders said. “It’s not that simple in those situations. We were not sitting face-to-face, it was more of a dramatic scene. Role playing took me back to the moment with my mom. But, I think it was good because I’ve never really took the time to reflect on it, and now I know different techniques and strategies going forward just in case I ever get into another situation like that. It was great of an opportunity for me to reflect on my experience.”
Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee offers many ways for to get involved in suicide prevention. Here are ways you can get involved as an individual:
QPR training is FREE! And, anyone can experience the QPR training. Simply contact Dr. Barbara Moser for QPR training inquires.
QPR training inquiries:
Contact Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee : firstname.lastname@example.org