Taney County, Mo. Health Department staff receives QPR suicide prevention training

BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) -Taney County Health Department staff have recently been trained in a suicide prevention program.

The program is called QPR, which means question, persuade, refer. Three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Taney County health leaders hope to expand the training to other agencies in the community to ensure they can handle mental health crises and emergencies.

Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Missouri and the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10-17. Taney Community Health Educator Kara Miller says there’s still a lot of stigma around the topic.

“It’s a mental health issue,” Miller said. “I think the more we talk about mental health issues because mental health is health, we need to make sure those people aren’t forgotten.”

Miller says the training takes only an hour and can be adapted for different populations.

“We have one specifically for law enforcement, specifically for youth, and specifically for veterans,” Miller said. “This is a demographic that has been shown to have high suicide rates.”

Branson’s House of Hope staff recently learned the QPR method. The organization’s community partner, Melanie Sawatzki, says more people struggle with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts or tendencies.

“It takes so much courage to talk about it, so it’s very important to have that training,” Sawatzki said. “When someone talks about it, we are there to welcome them. With kindness, grace, love and a plan to help them move forward from that point.”

Sawatzki says it’s important for struggling people to know they’re not alone and that help and resources are available to get them through it. She also says that the more we talk about mental health, the more comfortable people will feel sharing it.

“My hope is that the community will grow in communicating value and worth,” Sawatzki said. “Everyone needs validation and everyone needs to know that they are important, loved and wanted.”

Miller says if other community organizations are interested in signing up for QPR training, contact the health department.

You can contact the health department at 417-334-4544, EXT 594.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2022 KY3. All rights reserved.

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