Questions to ask potential suicide victims

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – During National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, personal safety advocates utilize the “QPR” process for friends and loved ones to utilize while attempting to intervene in a potential suicide occurrence.

“QPR teaches a lot of clues and warning signs to look for,” said Kathleen Ratcliff of Upstream Prevention of Johnson County, “and ideally as a gatekeeper you would notice some of those signs and symptoms in your friends and your peers and then you would ask them questions and check in on them.”

Questions including, “Are you considering suicide or killing yourself?” persuasion such as inquiring if the suicidal person will seek immediate help and referral in finding a health care professional to intervene.

“We talk about noticing shifts in behavior,” said Ratcliff. “Typically, if I’m a sunny personality and all of a sudden I’m withdrawn from things I might typically find enjoyable, I’m putting affairs in order, I’m giving away prized possessions, those are some of the big clues to look for.”

The Centers for Disease Control reported that in in 2017 across the United States, there were approximately 47,000 suicides with slightly more than half due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

That same year, the CDC found there were nearly 40,000 gunshot deaths in the U.S. and 24,000 were the result of suicides.

Indiana’s suicide rate is slightly above the national average of 14 per 100,000 of population while the suicide rate among veterans is more than twice that figure.

The Marion County Health Department determined in 2016 the county’s homicide rate was 17 per 100,000 residents while the suicide rate was 14 per 100,000.

“We say we can prevent suicide right up until the point of death, and I really believe that, but if somebody is using a firearm, that period between when they take that action and when they die is actually a lot less,” said Ratcliff. “Availability of means, whether it’s a firearm or pills or things like that, the availability does increase the attempt and so we do as much as we can to reduce that availability actually for those who we know are considering it.”

Thursday evening the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Johnson County is sponsoring a free showing of the film, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” at Whiteland Community High School. For more information, click here.

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