BILLINGS — A suicide prevention trainer notes that Montana ranks third in the country for suicides.
A Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) instructor visited Billings and Lockwood last week.
Frederick Lee spoke at the Lockwood Performing Arts Center on Thursday night.
"Through the training that we do, you're able to question somebody about what's going on in life," said Lee. "And through that questioning, find out if they're suicidal. If they are suicidal, then you persuade them to seek help."
During a two hour session, Lee teaches to question a person about suicide, persuade someone to get help and refer someone to the appropriate resource,
"And that's the beauty of QPR training," he said. "Easy to be taught to moms, dads grandpa grandmas. Our program is designed to be able to educate somebody recognizing the signs and clues of somebody who is possibly depressed, possibly suicidal."
Eileen Johnson Middle School Eric Karls asked Lee to give his QPR Institute presentation to parents in the community, as well as to help a group of students, known as the Hope Squad.
"[A] select group of students that get trained in QPR," Karls said. "They also get trained in other ways to create a more positive culture around mental health and help their friends who are thinking about suicide. Research kind of shows that students actually know if their friends are struggling with suicide before teachers, parents."
Lee's motivation is to help families. His 13-year old son Michael died from suicide in July of 2018.
"At the end of our training, we talk about our obituary that we give to every person," Lee said. "As a parent, I wish I could go back and talk about suicide to my son and I can't. That's why my wife and I do this training. That's why we offer it for free. We don't charge. QPR is an easy talking tool. You don't need a Ph.D. to become QPR certified. That's why we love it."
"It's actually something that everyone can do and I think should do for their community," Karls said.
Karls said the Lockwood schools have the first and only Hope Squad in Montana.
Lee gives his instruction mainly to rural areas, which have fewer resources for preventing suicide. More information is available on the QPR webite.