EMS/Firefighter professionals are first on scene for thousands of mental health and suicide attempt medical crisis every day. With input from members of the Colorado EMS Association, and with the help of the Redlands, California Fire Department and 1st responder organizations, this certificate course addresses the knowledge and skills first responders need to deal effectively with suicidal people, family members of the deceased by suicide, and to look after the health and safety of their colleagues and co-workers.
International students please note
Suicide rates for QPR courses are US-specific. To determine suicide rates in your country, please visit the World Health Organization at http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide_rates/en/ .
As you will see, many of these reports are quite dated. If your country keeps such data but does not necessarily report to WHO, try Googling federal, state, or province name and "suicide rate." If you are teaching suicide prevention courses you will need this data; the more local the data the better. But remember that suicide rates need 5 to 10 year horizons to be of much value as to interpreting any changes in trend lines.
This course is about our shared mission to help each other and the suicidal people we may meet on our journey through life. Some may be friends, some coworkers, and some may be the people we serve. As an EMS professional you may have already been on scene at a completed suicide or a non-fatal suicide attempt. If you have not, it is only a matter of time.
As background to building this course, the course authors worked with both the Injury Prevention Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health, and EMS/Firefighter professionals throughout the state. We built the training to "specifications" provided to our team by those "in the know."
Model intervention videos were graciously contributed by members of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, the Ontario Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the S.B.S.D. Valley Control, and the Redlands Fire Department.
Some additional key findings from expert consultation and research were these:
EMS/Firefigthers have a high degree of line-of-duty exposure to suicidal behaviors, both in the pre-attempt phase (when suicidal persons are communicating intent and desire to attempt suicide via suicide warning signs), and after a suicide attempt or completion.
EMS/Firefighter professionals may also have a higher-than-expected suicide rate compared to other professions. Research is needed to confirm this observation, but one of requests for building this course was to address the need for colleague-to-colleague interventions to prevent suicide.
While perceived comfort and competence in conducting suicide interventions or dealing with suicide events varies considerably, many first responder professionals have not had specific suicide prevention training that would be beneficial to them while "on scene."
To earn the QPR for EMS/Firefighter Certificate in Suicide Prevention and receive a lapel pin and quality certificate to frame, the learner must complete 8 hours of online training in this same course. Some learners may take less time, some will take more. Practice sessions are recommended.
The final exam is a national 25-item test that few health care or mental health professionals can pass without completing this or a similar training program.
The QPR Institute trains and licenses Certified QPR Instructors for those interested in teaching QPR face-to-face.
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 persons served by health care, correctional, hospital and other institutions through a systems approach to suicide risk reduction that enhances first responder and clinical competencies to detect, assess, monitor, manage and treat persons known to be at elevated risk for suicidal behaviors.
As of this writing in the winter of 2014, the Institute has trained more than 15,000 Certified Gatekeeper Instructors who have, in turn, trained more than two million gatekeepers worldwide. In addition, thousands of clinical health care providers have been trained in how to detect, assess, and manage 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 first responders and people of goodwill to help prevent suicide around the globe.
Program Background and Purpose
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, including those you respond to in the line of duty.
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 history and source of the Institute's 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, and Spokane County Regional Health District.
We believe that crisis volunteers, first responders, emergency services professionals, corrections professionals as well as many others in frequent contact with at risk populations, need to know as much about suicidal behaviors and how to intervene to reduce risk and enhance safety as do trained mental health professionals. To this end, the online program you are about to take is intended to train you in the knowledge and skills you will need to provide competent services in suicide risk detection, initial intervention, how to immediately mitigate the risk of a suicide attempt.
What this training program is not
This training is not a substitute for a college degree in counseling or other helping 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.
The Training Program
Modularized in a rich mix of text, video, voice-over PowerPoint™ lectures, interactive practice sessions, and other state-of-the-art interactive and e-learning technologies, the QPR for EMS/Firefighters online training program provides two certificates.
Basic, Level I QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention requires 2 hours of training, after which one certificate is issued when the quiz is passed. This course is embedded in the larger QPR for EMS/Firefighter Certificate in Suicide Prevention. The full course requires 8 hours of training and passing a final exam. If the learner passes this national exam he or she will have demonstrated more knowledge about suicide and its prevention than a large majority of mental health professionals.
From the 8-hour Level II certificate program, participants should be able to:
Understand the common myths and facts surrounding suicide
Recognize someone at risk of suicide
Demonstrate increased knowledge about suicide and its causes
Identify unique verbal, behavioral, and situational suicide warning signs
Know how to inquire about suicidal intent and desire
Know how to engage and assist a suicidal colleague or co-worker
Apply QPR with potentially suicidal people
Know what to say to people who have attempted suicide and to the loved ones left behind by a completed suicide
Demonstrate QPR intervention skills
Describe suicide as a major public health problem.
Describe the US National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
Describe and locate major suicide prevention web sites and online resources
Describe the scope of the problem of suicide in his or her state or province
Identify at least three suicide warning signs
Identify at least three risk factors for suicide
Name at least three protective factors against suicide
Describe means restriction and how to immediately reduce risk
Understand the nature of suicide and describe at least one theory of suicidal behavior
Demonstrate basic helping skills following suicide attempts or completions
Describe the relationship of mental illness and substance abuse to suicide and understand the fundamentals of our current knowledge about suicide and its prevention
Demonstrate by passing a nationally standardized exam on fundamental knowledge about suicide, its causes, and the current status of suicide prevention in America
Individual certificate pricing:
Certificate of Course Completion (8 hours)
Unlimited subscription certificate pricing:
Based on department staff patterns from the U.S. Fire Department Profile 3013 Fact Sheet, leadership can create a "circle of safety" by providing unlimited training with 24/7 access to career staff, volunteers, and POD volunteers.
Where "staff person" means career or volunteer (paid or not paid) first responder, the following pricing acknowledges the volunteer contributions to community protection:
All career departments: $30 per staff person per year
Mostly career departments: $20 per staff person per year
Mostly volunteer departments: $10 per staff person per year
All volunteer departments: $5 per staff person per year.
To access training under a subscription license, a unique access code is issued to your department which you may distribute as you see fit.
Large departments please call for pricing.
- All courses are updated annually
- All program upgrades are included
- 2-year renewal and re-certification in QPR are included in the subscription price
Thank you for helping to prevent suicide.
For trainers and instructors only
To support this online educational program with classroom-based interactive skill training sessions, trainers, instructors, or professors may request a complimentary supplemental First Responder Instructor Manual and teaching slides for this course.
This manual DOES NOT cover the content delivered in the online training program, but supports it. It is intended to be used as a practice session manual to practice and review the interventions and skills taught in the online course.
Testimonials for this course
What EMS/Firefighters say about this training
Benefits and recommendations
“You need to take this training, it is an eye opener. It helped me greatly.”
“Absolutely take it..........I will not only take this training but am taking the train the trainer QPR course. I plan to teach this to Law Enforcement, Dispatchers that do 911, Victim Advocates with my organization and fire and EMS responders.”
“Taught me how to talk to someone thinking about suicide or who has attempted suicide, and dealing with family and friends. Over my life time I have had 4 people close to me commit suicide or attempt suicide; the course has opened my eyes to what I had been going through myself and how I should have dealt with the individuals involved in those attempts.”
Our courses should qualify for continuing education for most professions.
Counselors: The QPR Institute is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is
responsible for all aspects of the program.
Nurses: Varies with state or organizational membership.
Physicians: Application for CME pending.
Note: Since many professions have their own continuing education credentialing and certification processes, please submit the course description and required hours to complete to your own accrediting body for approval. Or, we are happy to provide reviewer access to any of these courses to make their own determinations.
Reviewer Access and for questions about CEs: Please contact Brian Quinnett, National Training Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for complimentary review access.