Standing Together

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Today was the “Out of Darkness” community walk in Richmond Virginia. It’s organized by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It was an amazing community gathering, that showed how many people truly care and are there to support those struggling with mental illness.

Although I was in the back of the crowd and couldn’t hear a majority of the speeches, what I could hear was powerful. People shared their own stories of struggle and loss, and offered hope to all those around them.

Everyone proudly wore beads that represented their own connection to AFSP, whether they had lost a loved one, friend, or struggled themselves. It was an environment where no one was afraid of judgement and could openly speak to anyone around them for support.

I was inspired by the walk today. Our team, however small we may have been, raised over $2000 for the cause. So many of my own friends in family happily donated.

The AFSP is an amazing organization, that is inspiring change, and a start in conversation to stop the stigma.

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QPR

Today I attended QPR training at my college. The counseling center was offering training sessions, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn. Overall it was a great experience, but I did notice a few things that I wanted to talk about.

First of all, for those of you who do not know, QPR is short for question, persuade and refer. It is a program designed to train individuals on how to approach the topic of suicide and what to do if you believe someone you know is suicidal. I highly recommend the training, as it was a very informative program.

However, there were some problems with the powerpoints, that my instructor couldn’t change due to their copyrights. I was lucky enough to have an instructor who pointed these things out. However, it is important to be mindful of them.

One of the main problems I had was the term “commit”. On many slides the program stated statistics in which individuals “committed suicide”. I have a problem with this, as I see the word commit as placing blame on the victim. Someone who dies by suicide is not to blame for their death!

Another problem was that in the persuade section, one of the many recommendations was to have the person promise you they will not hurt themselves until they talk to you next. In my opinion this is ineffective and puts shame on the person you are supposed to be helping.

In the past I have had a therapist make me sign a suicidal thinking contract (which listed what I would do incase of an emergency and made me agree not to hurt myself), and it was one of the worst feelings. If he were to have made a plan with me and written out what to do without making me sign anything, it would have been a useful resource. However, by making me sign the paper it was almost like he was making me admit that my thoughts were wrong, and that I was at fault for having them.

Suicidal thoughts are obviously not a positive thing, but they are not anyones fault. Further more, by making someone feel bad for having these thoughts all that you are doing is furthering the stigma and limiting the chances of them speaking up.

Overall the QPR training was a positive experience. We ran scenarios, and I learned local resources and how to contact help if needed. I recommend it for anyone looking to be more informed on how to approach the subject of suicidal thinking. However, I would be mindful of the things that I talked about. Here is the link for the website if anyone is interested: https://www.qprinstitute.com/