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South Valley Journal

With suicide rates at an all-time high ‘QPR’ and being gun safe can help

Jun 17, 2019 09:40AM ● By Clinton Haws

The national rates of suicides by state (Utah Department of Health)

By Clinton Haws | [email protected]

Partnered with local organizations and committees such as Healthy Riverton, the Utah Department of Health is providing suicide prevention training techniques and awareness.

QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, and Refer.” The Department of Health’s endorses this method to handle and approach anyone that might be thinking of harming themselves or having negative thoughts. 

“QPR is to suicide what CPR is to cardiac arrest,” said Lisa Carter, a QPR trainer with Healthy Riverton. “If enough people in the community are trained to recognize signs of suicide and intervene utilizing QPR, we can reduce the number of suicide deaths in our youth.”

QPR Institute and Healthy Riverton recommend being trained for anyone that has an adolescent in their lives, whether it is a niece, nephew, or a neighbor’s children or your own. Statistics show that teenage suicides are becoming increasingly more prevalent today. Carter says suicidal episodes of actually committing the act last only 10 minutes, so if there is a way to talk to this person and give them a reason for hope, a crisis can be prevented and then treated. Those who have survived suicides will attest.

“Suicides are the most preventative cause of all deaths,” Carter said. “If we can just save one life by doing this training it will have been worth it.” 

Suicide rates for all ages have risen in the United States and the state of Utah. Utah is in the top five nationally for teenage suicide rates. The rates across all ages are alarming and the statistics linked to firearms (and males). There are a number of factors that point to this. QPR officials point out that anxiety and depression are on the rise, and social media is a major factor. Studies show that 86% of firearm deaths are suicides.

The numbers indicate that states with the highest gun ownership have the highest suicide rates in the nation. Alaska, Idaho and Montana have been No. 1 in recent years.

“The Department of Health has provided gun locks for us to provide to anyone that wants one,” Carter said. “They are available at any QPR training or any event that we attend for everyone. We get them through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the BCI in Taylorsville, and that has been set up for us through the Utah Department of Health.”

Healthy Riverton recommends the use of gun locks, drug take-back boxes, and properly storing firearms and ammunition if you have a teenager in your home or that even visits. Local police will store firearms and ammunition for anyone that is in crisis or simply wants to remove the lethal method from their household. Lethal prescription take-back boxes are available at most pharmacies. 

“We are not anti-gun, and we are not pro-gun; we are safe-gun,” Carter said. “Even if you don’t have guns yourself, most of us know a relative, neighbor or friend that we can give these to.”

Pistols and shotguns are both used through lethal means. In Utah, it is more of a shotgun issue because of the rural households and common shotgun ownership. Securing these and prescriptions can keep someone from doing themselves permanent harm if they can get through the 10-minute timeframe when people really contemplate or have these thoughts. 

“Guns and ammunition should be safely secured somewhere that nobody knows of and only that owner knows where they are,” Carter said. “Guns should be stored separately and in different locations than ammunition. Especially if you suspect that someone is in distress, just get them out.”

Carter said just get them out of the house so that option is not available to anyone in distress. Safe harbor laws provide a way for people to store their guns free of charge with local law enforcement. 

“I don’t think enough people utilize safe harbor methods,” Carter said. “Ammunition can even be stored separately in situations of distress.” 

QPR training teaches that guns should be treated and respected for their lethal potential . QPR officials want people to use their firearms in a safe manner. Carter said anyone could suffer the tragedy of losing a child or loved one to suicide. 

Studies show that males commit seven out of 10 suicides, while females try seven out of 10 suicide attempts. Studies also indicate the method of choice is generally different by gender. Males choose firearms more often than females, and it is the reason for their success rate as opposed to females. The methods females often choose can be treated, and aversion is likelier. 

QPR partners with Jordan Wellness Coalition, Intermountain Health, Hope4Utah, the Department of Health, local police and fire departments, and other organizations/committees to educate and train anyone on the QPR method.

One of the important intricacies to using QPR effectively is being aware of the obvious but also subtle signs of suicidal thoughts and tendencies. This is a key element in preventing a potential suicide. You know your children and teenagers better than anyone. Feelings and emotions are heightened as adolescents. Healthy Riverton recommends communicating and talking to anyone if you suspect or are even experiencing these thoughts on your own.


  • Carter is the leader of Healthy Riverton, a resident-led group of all volunteers that provides QPR training. 
  • Healthy Riverton provides training to residents, and anyone is free to attend. 
  • Training is held at different locations every week. In Riverton, training is held every third Thursday of the month. 
  • Information about these events is available through the QPR Institute website, Healthy Riverton, Jordan Wellness Coalition from the Jordan School District, the Department of Health and other partners. 
  • and are online resources. 
  • The next training is on June 20. It is held at the Fire Station #124 in Riverton at 12662 South 1300 West.