University Police train for better suicide prevention

A suicide prevention training program designed to better prepare University Police officers in aiding students and staff in need was held Feb. 12 at the Weigel Health Center.

The program was instructed by Ronald George, case manager and AOD coordinator for the counseling center.

We do not want our students to be bystanders when a fellow student is in distress. We want them to be ‘up-standers’ able to assist their fellow student.

— Peter Carey

QPR is the acronym for Question, Persuade, and Refer. The training is less then two hours and attendees receive a QPR Gatekeeper Certificate.

“This is something we can teach anyone to intervene and help other people,” George said. “This is a certifiable training and is free, good for your resume, and knowledge you can use right away in a variety of settings.”

QPR training is an important part of SUNY Buffalo’s caring community, George said, adding that you may even save a life after this training.

Chief of Police Peter Carey said that all University Police officers are required to attend the training in accordance with their mission to provide police services to the students, faculty, and staff.

“We do not want our students to be bystanders when a fellow student is in distress,” Carey said. “We want them to be ‘up-standers’ able to assist their fellow student.”

The QPR institute website says the training will teach warning signs of someone contemplating suicide, how to offer hope and how to get help to save a life.

“Training is open to all members of the Buffalo State Community,” George said. “We have trained faculty, staff, support staff, maintenance, UPD, residence Life, students in the Hospitality and tourism major, USG groups and grad and undergrad classes.”

According to George, students have testified to incorporating the skills taught by the program to help a friend or family member in a crisis.

In the past three years, University Police have handled an average of 23 calls per year involving a person in need of mental health support, according to Carey.

“Those calls include assisting the Counseling Center and calls directly reported to University Police,” Carey said.

George said a majority of attendees are students, with groups that range from one to 180.

Three Buffalo State members were trained seven years ago at UB.

After applying for a SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) grant, QPR training was the chosen program and they began to train as many people as possible, according to George.

The program consists of a power point that relays statistics about suicide, and shares that suicide effects people of all ethnicity, cultures, and communities. Videos of actors portraying the warning signs of suicide are shown.

At the end of the training, attendees are required to pair up for role pay. One person acts as the victim and the as the gatekeeper. Afterward, a discussion was held about how it felt to “ask the question” of contemplating suicide.

George said that suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses and among young people of ages 17-25. The percentage of suicide at Buffalo State is less than one percent.

Trainings are posted on the counseling center website. George said students can request training by contacting him at 716-878-4336.

Email: [email protected]