QPR Training and Mental Health at UW

QPR is “an emergency mental health intervention that teaches people to recognize and respond positively to someone exhibiting suicide warning signs and behaviors.” This is built on the idea that people with suicidal ideations often reveal their thoughts in bits and pieces, like a puzzle—and our role is to try to find more pieces of the puzzle to prevent people from going down that path.

I attended a QPR training session at the university and learned a lot! Although I hope I’ll never have to use my training in real life, the statistics are discouraging.

Suicide Statistics

These last two facts were surprising. I think Waterloo has a culture of casually reinforcing themes of depression and suicide in our conversations with each other, compounded by our several high-profile campus suicides in the past few years, which perhaps leads to a distorted view of the actual extent of our mental health problem. But at least students here are aware, and willing to do something about it—the training room was packed full of students on a Friday afternoon.

Our instructor referred to suicide, and other drastic actions such as self-harm, as “temporary solutions to a permanent problem.” And therefore, while QPR is not any sort of counselling or treatment, it does teach us ways to offer hope to those at risk, so that they may turn to alternative solutions before resorting to the most irreversible measure. Often suicidal people have no hope left, and our role is to instill some hope into them again.

It’s a common myth that confronting a person about suicide will only push them closer to the edge, but actually, asking someone directly about suicide lowers anxiety, opens communication, and lowers the risk of acting impulsively. So if you notice someone you know exhibiting troubling behaviour, it’s important to ask them what’s going on.

Clues and Warning Signs

Although many suicides take us by surprise, most suicidal people “hint” about their suicide sometime during the week before their attempt.

Key takeaways from QPR:

Where to find help in Waterloo


Finally, a very important part of QPR is to practice self-care. You may feel guilty about how you handled a situation, or you don’t know what to do about something that’s happening. Get help for yourself!!

For those who aren’t able to make it to a QPR session, I hope this was helpful. However, the seminars and workshops UW Counselling Services offer (QPR is only one of many training tools) are great free resources, whether to use for yourself or to help others. Wishing everyone a great rest of the semester!