Michelle Jones never thought her brother Pete would take his life – she said things were going well for him and the thought never crossed her mind. Now she’s working with Louisville Metro government to prevent suicide.
Training courses, offered this week, coincide with the nationally-recognized Suicide Prevention Week. The city and partnering organizations will offer more than 80 free courses on suicide prevention this week, teaching QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, so trainees are prepared to help people contemplating suicide.
One of the organizations collaborating on the training is The Pete Foundation, Jones’ nonprofit aimed at addressing depression and anxiety. She said stigma about mental illness is one of the biggest barriers to addressing mental health issues.
“Suicide has been on the rise in the United States, and Louisville is no exception,” Jones said. “I just think that this training is a[n] amazing way to get some general knowledge out to the public.”
Suicide affects many people in Louisville. According to the QPR website, Jefferson County ranked 11th out of 50 peer counties in terms of highest rates of suicide from 2008 through 2014. And according to the city’s 2017 Health Equity Report, 584 people died by suicide in the Louisville Metro area between 2011 and 2015, compared to 333 people who died by homicide.
“Schoolmates, coworkers, neighbors – it’s affecting a lot of people,” said Ken Luther a QPR trainer. “The more people that can just see this training, see the myths that we talk about and see the approaches, I think will help everybody in general.”