QPR is like CPR — it can save a life, an Edmond school counselor said.

Ken Elliott, a counselor from Sunset Elementary School, recently named one of the top six school counselors in the U.S. for his work on issues including suicide intervention training, was the lead facilitator during Monday evening’s symposium on suicide risk and response.

QPR stands for question a person about suicide, persuade the person to get help and refer the person to the appropriate resource.

The presentation, an overview to help people recognize and respond positively to someone exhibiting suicide warning signs and behaviors, was scheduled in response to recent suicides in Edmond.

The first occurred on Jan. 13, a 14-year-old boy who attended Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School. The second occurred Jan. 18, a 17-year-old boy who attended Memorial High School. The third occurred Jan. 26, a 17-year-old boy who attended North High School.

Elliott said the incidents have had a profound affect on Edmond Public Schools faculty and staff.

“Please know that everybody in this district has been shaken to the core,” Elliott said. “We are a district on fire, dealing with these issues.”

Local resources include calling 911 for a wellness check, calling 1-800-SUICIDE, calling a suicide prevention lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), calling 211 for information and referral services from HeartLine’s database and seeking assistance from agencies like Edmond Family Counseling (341-3554).

Elliott said if people in a crisis get the help they need they probably will never be suicidal again. Asking someone directly about suicidal intent lowers anxiety, opens communication and lowers the risk of an impulsive act, he said.

“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business,” Elliott said.

Youth sometimes will tell or attempt to tell fellow youth about their plans, Elliott said. Tell an adult even if you have to keep telling them about it until they understand, he said.

Questions from the audience were answered by Elliott and Edmond School Resource Officer Bervis Littles.

Close to 200 people attended the symposium, held in the auditorium at Memorial High School. Edmond Public Schools spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp said the event was one of many ideas that came out of a meeting supported by Edmond’s schools, the Police Department, community agencies and members of the city’s private sector.

Parks-Schlepp said some local pastors have inquired about obtaining QPR-type training for staffs at their churches.

A desire of the stakeholders is to continue the community education effort, Parks-Schlepp said. QPR training will be part of a follow up event at 6 p.m. April 16 at the city’s Multipurpose Activity Center in Mitch Park.

In addition to the QPR training, ASIST — Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training — a refresher type of training, will be at Edmond Family Counseling on Feb. 20. For more information about that class, call Edmond Family Counseling at 341-3554.

HeartLine, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and several Edmond counseling offices supplied certified professional trainers to support attendees if needed. Several other Edmond Public Schools counselors were present at Monday evening’s symposium.

To schedule a QPR program for your community group or school, call Ken Elliott at 340-2990.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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