GV Counseling Center offers QPR among resources during Suicide Prevention Month


GVL / Bethann Long

Chloe Schram, Staff Writer

As September is recognized throughout the United States as National Suicide Prevention Month, Grand Valley State University is seeking to combat suicide-related stigma and barriers through programs and resources.

Given the prevalence of mental health strains commonly identified in collegiate environments, ending the stigma and undereducation associated with mental health has been a priority for the GVSU’s University Counseling Center as it prepares a year-long suicide prevention and awareness training program known as Question Persuade Refer (QPR).

QPR is a nationally recognized program used by schools and organizations across the country.

Offered through the University Counseling Center, QPR training will consist of multiple meetings designed to teach GVSU students and staff how to recognize the signs of suicide, know how and when to aid others around them and to reach out for help when necessary.

According to the University Counseling Center’s website on QPR, the program not only seeks to show how to recognize and understand suicide from a social perspective but also attempts to incorporate a multicultural perspective.

The training also aims to teach community members how to refer someone in need of help to the right sources that will be patient and efficient in assisting them.

The first QPR Suicide Prevention Training took place on Sept. 13 in the university’s Kirkhof Center.

Led by the University Counseling Center’s Coordinator of Master of Social Work Training, Les White, the training covered how to ask someone who is struggling if they are considering suicide, persuade the person to get help and show them empathy and refer them to a phone number or resource so they can receive immediate aid.

With the heavy and solemn nature of the topic of suicide, the training had many key points that related to the mechanics and triggers of suicide.

Although the directness of QPR may be triggering for some students or faculty that are listening, White said the material is critical to facilitating and expanding support for those in need.

“This training is important because professionals are limited in number, and it’s important for people in their everyday life to know how to ask the question,” White said.

In addition to such QPR training sessions, GVSU’s University Counseling Center offers other suicide prevention services including group and individual counseling and therapy sessions.

Students have been encouraged by university officials to engage in these different therapy opportunities at GVSU in times of difficulty, or whenever they feel it is necessary.

The University Counseling Center has recently made an effort to increase visibility on campus, installing mental health kiosks in central campus locations and artwork displaying QR codes linked to additional resources.

With growing social recognition of the harm that can be inflicted through failures to adequately address mental health concerns, students at GVSU have expressed their desire for more attention towards and mental health resources at the university like its QPR training.

“There’s still such a stigma on mental health,” said GVSU junior Julian Mckenzie.

The QPR training, Mckenzie said, is a good way to bring attention to mental health and suicide prevention. However, it is also one that Mckenzie feels must be promoted more in order to effectively engage and educate the campus community.

“I haven’t seen anything about (the QPR training sessions) on campus,” Mckenzie said. “They could put up flyers, have professors mention the training and bring more awareness overall.”

Other students like junior Sydney Takla agree with Mckenzie’s assessment that more awareness and conversation will generate a larger impact for the program and the overarching conversation.

“Sometimes kids feel like they can’t or don’t want to speak up when they need help,” Takla said.

A recent transfer to GVSU, Takla said she wishes she heard more about the programs the University Counseling Center offers.

“I have only been here for a little while, but I haven’t heard anything,” Takla said. “I think they need to make people more aware of the QPR training and other counseling services.”

Amidst the University Counseling Center’s additional services and the nation’s solemn yet determined recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, more QPR training sessions will take place at GVSU throughout the school year.

Additional dates for this training include Oct. 3, Nov. 9 and Dec. 1. There will also be four training sessions during the Winter 2023 semester on Jan. 17, Feb. 6, March 15 and April 3.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, help and resources are available to ensure that every member of the campus community is aware of their importance and that they are enough.

Students and staff can reach the University Counseling Center at (616) 331-3266.

In cases of emergency, dial the National Suicide Hotline at 988.