MENTONE — Tippecanoe School Corporation hasn’t always had the happiest history. Students have known much sorrow over the years as they’ve lost a number of classmates to suicide, and the schools are actively trying to do something about it.
Valley Schools hosted a suicide prevention training seminar Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 26, at Mentone Elementary. Over 40 employees and community members in Tippecanoe Valley district attended the event.
Tippy Valley partnered with the Bowen Center’s Huntter Randall for the event. Randall spent an hour and a half speaking on suicide and how it is preventable. He emphasized to the crowd that “if recovery is possible, suicide is preventable.”
According to Randall, 800,000 suicides occur every year, including 40,000 in America per year. He further explained that a suicide occurs every 13 minutes in America. “If we are going to turn this around, we need everyone’s help,” stated Randall.
Randall spoke of a recent seminar he did at Valley where 136 freshmen attended. When Randall asked how many in the room had known someone who attempted or committed suicide, every freshmen in the room raised their hand. “It was one of those moments where my breath just caught in my throat,” said Randall.
He then walked the crowd through QPR — Question, Persuade, Refer. QPR is the official suicide prevention technic taught to school employees — required by law — and the public and “is intended to offer hope through positive action.” Randall pointed out that while police, medics and firefighters are called first responders, they are usually the second on the scene after a pedestrian has called 911.
Randall walked the crowd through verbal and behavioral cues a person may say or do while thinking about suicide and continued into procedures to follow. He provided questions to ask and questions not to ask someone struggling with suicide. He also explained how to persuade someone to stay alive and how to find the person help after walking through the questions and persuasion steps. He encouraged the crowd by stating, “You can offer hope to someone where there is none left, not for them.”
The Bowen Center employs over 1,300 personnel who are trained in QPR. The center will send another representative in October to coach students in the Valley district QPR as well. It has been three years since Valley’s last suicide. Tippy Valley began teaching QPR technics to its students, staff and community in 2013.
All participants received QPR certification for attending the event.