QPR Training Targeting Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide

This 3+ hour NREPP-listed certificate training program is designed for anyone working with persons with substance abuse issues and especially those working with veterans. The course includes approximately 2 hours of content (video lecture, case scenarios, practice exercises) that address how to reduce suicide risk. The course includes Level 1 QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention and an approved, brief edition of the Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) best practice registered training program.

The training program targets identification, screening, referral to enhance patient safety - both outpatient and inpatient/residential - and teaches a best practice suicide screening tool and referral methodology.


Why is the relationship of alcohol/drugs and suicide important? Is there is an increased risk in persons with substance abuse or dependence?

  • Alcohol or drug abuse/dependence increases the risk of suicide attempts or completion by 500% to 1000% as shown in numerous studies.
  • Those persons who work with more severe addiction disorders, such as those who will qualify for addiction treatment, may be at even higher risk – either before they receive treatment, if they leave treatment, or relapse afterward. Therefore addiction treatment patients should be taught the principles of suicide prevention, and CDP's new should know how to help patients decrease suicide risk factors, enhance protective factors, and therefore reduce suicide risk.
  • In addition to those with addiction and substance use disorders, CDPs serve known populations at elevated risk of suicide: young men, veterans, the elderly, and persons with existing mental illnesses.
  • As health care professionals, CDPs also have higher-than-expected exposures to secondary trauma resulting from suicidal behaviors, since many of their patients have already attempted suicide or experienced episodes of serious suicidal ideation.
  • While perceived comfort and competence in conducting suicide interventions or dealing with suicide events varies considerably, many CDPs have not had specific suicide prevention training which would be beneficial to the health and safety of fellow employees or their suicidal patients.

Finally, the four primary goals of the QPR Institute are these:

  • Raise public awareness about suicide and its prevention.
  • Provide low-cost, high-tech, effective, basic gatekeeper and intervention skills training to lay persons who may be able to prevent a suicide.
  • Provide suicide prevention and intervention training programs for a variety of professionals and for undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students preparing for careers in the helping professions.
  • Reduce morbidity and mortality of suicidal patients, students, and employees through a systems approach to suicide risk reduction that enhances detection of suicidal behaviors and those clinical competencies necessary to assess, manage, monitor, and treat patients known to be at elevated risk for suicidal behaviors.

As of this writing in early 2014, the Institute has trained almost two million gatekeepers worldwide. In addition, thousands of clinical health care providers have been trained in how to detect, assess, manage, and treat suicidal consumers.

If this sounds like an "army" of people helping to prevent suicide, it is. Now, with your help, we will create a new division in that army of educated, trained CDPs to help prevent suicide around the globe.

While expert opinion may differ as to what helper competencies are required to assist suicidal persons achieve the most beneficial outcomes, little controversy exists about the lack of qualified manpower to help the thousands of people who think about, attempt, and sometimes die by suicide. For this reason alone, new state laws are being passed to improve the capacity of health professionals to respond effectively to suicidal patients.

Even among licensed professionals there is a serious lack of systematic training in how to a) detect suicide risk, b) assess immediate risk for suicidal behaviors and c) provide helpful crisis mitigation services to suicidal persons.

The primary mission of the QPR Institute has been to provide technology transfer of evidence-based knowledge into useful skills and helpful interventions for those wishing to assist suicidal persons. To this end, the Institute has developed comprehensive training programs to address the training deficits among clinical providers as outlined in both editions of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and to provide customized suicide prevention training to match the service setting and the levels of duty professionals in those settings have for the health and safety of those they serve.

The history and source of these training programs is derived from earlier research and development work in partnership with Washington State University, The Washington Institute for Mental Health Research, the Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Program, Spokane Mental Health (now Frontier Behavioral Health), and Spokane County Regional Health District.

We know that chemical dependency providers are in frequent contact with at-risk populations. In our view, they need to know as much about suicidal behaviors and how to intervene to reduce risk and enhance safety as do trained mental health professionals. Learning to recognize and respond to possible suicide warning signs, and how to facilitate a competent referral and follow-up is key to preventing suicide.

This training is not a substitute for a university degree in counselling or other mental health profession, nor can it provide the face-to-face supervised experience those in the helping professions are provided in the course of their professional career development. The program does not teach suicide risk assessment skills. Suicide risk assessment training is provided in other QPR Institute programs.

  • Participants must be at least 18 years of age
  • If employed by, or volunteering for, an organization, participants agree to accept all expectations and employment rules of their parent organization. The QPR Institute does not vet or otherwise qualify students for this course.

Modularized in a rich mix of text, video, voice-over PowerPointâ„¢ lectures, interactive practice sessions, and other state-of-the-art interactive and e-learning technologies, the QPR for CDPs training program provides a dynamic introduction to suicide risk detection, intervention, means restriction, referral and follow up.

Participants who complete this course should be able to:

  • Understand suicide as a major public health problem
  • Understand the common myths and facts surrounding suicide
  • Identify unique verbal, behavioral, and situational suicide warning signs
  • Describe the relationship of substance use and abuse as risk factors for suicide
  • Explain the connection between addiction and suicide
  • Recognize and screen someone at risk of addiction and suicide
  • Know how to inquire about suicidal intent and desire
  • Recognize at least three suicide warning signs in addiction populations
  • Recognize at least three risk factors for suicide in addiction populations
  • Recognize at least three protective factors against suicide in addiction populations
  • Demonstrate increased knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and intent to act to intervene with suicidal people and patients with substance use disorders
  • Know how to engage and assist a suicidal colleague or co-worker
  • Describe "means restriction" and life-saving action steps
  • Know materials, phone numbers, and patient/family information to provide at discharge or point of care site. and help with a safety plan
  • Understand the nature of suicide and describe at least one theory of suicidal behavior
  • Describe and locate major suicide prevention web sites and online resources
  • Demonstrate increased knowledge about suicide and its causes
  • Engage in an interactive and helpful conversation with someone who has attempted suicide
  • Engage in an interactive and helpful conversation with the loved ones or family members of someone who has died by suicide
  • Additional video is available on other high risk groups for suicide - see optional video lecture series