The Arka Tech

Being there, helping those who are suicidal

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, according to the American Association of Suicidology. However, Suicide is the “most preventable form of death,” the National Institute of Mental Health said.

To help educate students, faculty and staff, Arkansas Tech University Health and Wellness offers QPR training. QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer; all steps that help a person seek out information to see if a person is suicidal.

“We are not the first person to come in contact with the student that maybe experiencing symptoms,” Janis Taylor, a licensed professional counselor for Tech, said. “We get a lot of referrals.”

Suicidal people often show “warning signs and/or clues,” the QPR training explains. There are direct verbal clues that include: “I wish I were dead.” But there are subtler clues, such as “I just want out,” or “Who cares if I am dead anyway?”

There are also nonverbal clues, such as “giving away prized possessions, drug or alcohol abuse or unexplained anger, aggression and irritability.” Paying attention to the signs is one way to recognize a suicidal person.

“Any of these signs by themselves certainly doesn’t mean that someone is thinking about suicide,” Hunter Bramlitt, licensed associate counselor for Tech, said. “When you see a lot of them together is when you should start worrying.”

Asking a family member, friend, fellow student or co-worker if they are suicidal can be a difficult task for some people, but the QPR training offers tips on asking.

Tips such as: “have you been unhappy lately?” or a more direct approach that offers open communication, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

While some may think asking the question out right is a little rude or intrusive, the training and Tech counselors say that opening a line of communication to those who are suicidal is often the best solution.

Showing people you care and are there for them puts a “spark of hope” back into a person and can “be the difference” in a person’s life the QPR training states. Getting a person help is the next step.

“A survey of college counseling centers revealed that 86% of students who died by suicide did not seek campus counseling services prior to their death,” the American Association of Suicidology said.

Learning how to properly assess a situation and engage in conversation about suicide can be done through training provided by the Health and Wellness Center, but if a person feels the situation needs attention now, counselors are available to all students.

Students receive 10 free sessions per academic year.

For more information or to request QPR training for groups 25 or larger contact the Health and Wellness Center by phone at (479) 968-0329.

Counseling services are available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and appointments can be scheduled online at