By Maureen Thaete | Assistant News Editor

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) hosted the fifth annual “Send Suicide Packing” event on the De la Salle lawn. During Community Time, students observed a display of several backpacks paired with informational placards promoting suicide awareness and prevention.

Some placards listed tools to help people recognize and respond to warning signs, some listed resources on campus, and others shared the personal experiences of people who have been affected by suicide. Posters called students to seek counsel, train in suicide prevention, and ultimately “Break the Stigma! Send Suicide Packing!”

According to Dr. Cynthia Cutshall, psychologist and Outreach Coordinator at CAPS, “Eleven hundred college students die by suicide in the U.S. every year.” Dr. Cutshall emphasized the importance of using the word “die” rather than “commit,” since the latter term attaches such a negative label to the victim.

CAPS also used the event as an opportunity to raise awareness about Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training, a two hour training session in which students, faculty, and staff learn a system for actively preventing suicide. “Our goal is to train 20 percent of the campus in QPR so that any given person would be likely to know a QPR gatekeeper,” says Dr. Cutshall.

In addition to promoting QPR, the event sought to encourage St. Mary’s students to continue to normalize the conversation about suicide and spread awareness about resources on campus. “I think opening a dialogue about suicide is important because it helps to erase the negative stigma and makes prevention more of a possibility, said Grace Becker ‘18, a student attending the event.

CAPS provided a sign-up sheet for QPR training as well as contact cards for the Contra Costa Crisis Center. The next QPR training session will be the morning of Friday, Sept. 29 in the Soda Center. CAPS hosts two sessions each semester as well as additional sessions at request. Several members of the Saint Mary’s community are regularly trained in QPR, including Resident Advisors, WOWIEs, High Potential Mentors, and the Intercultural Center staff.

CAPS is located on the ground floor of Augustine Hall and is available to all students for more information and resources.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly defined the “Q” in QPR as the word “Quest.” The correct word is “Question,” and this has been fixed. 

This article has 1 comment

  1. Thank you for this wonderful article, Maureen. Just to clarify, QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, and Refer.”

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