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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, 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.

The Training Program

{2jtab: The Problem}

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 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 responders 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 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 EMS professionals have not had specific suicide prevention training that would be beneficial to them while "on scene."
  • For some learners, only the first few modules (approximately two hours) of this online course may be required by the learner's employer or college instructor. The only certificate earned in this shorter version of the course is the QPR Gatekeeper for Suicide Prevention Certificate.
  • To earn the QPR for EMS/Firefighter Certificate in Suicide Prevention, more work is required. The learner must complete 6-8 hours of online training in this same course. Completing and passing the quizzes in these additional modules qualify the learner to print the QPR for EMS/Firefighter Certificate in Suicide Prevention Certificate.

    The price for the shorter or longer course is the same, and we encourage all learners to complete the full course if possible. Most do, as the subject of suicide is facinating to almost all learners. 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 Spring of 2011, the Institute has trained more than 7,000 Certified Gatekeeper Instructors who have, in turn, trained more than one 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.

{2jtab: Program Background and Purpose}

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.

{2jtab: The Training Program}

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.

The basic QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention requires 2 hours of training. The QPR for EMS Certificate in Suicide Prevention requires 6-8 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 minimum QPR gatekeeper training, 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

From the 6-8 hour certificate program, participants should be able to:

  • Understand 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
  • Recognize at least three suicide warning signs
  • Recognize and identify at least three risk factors for suicide
  • Recognize and identify at least three protective factors against suicide
  • Understand 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
  • Pass a nationally standardized exam demonstrating fundamental knowledge about suicide, its causes, and the current status of suicide prevention in America

What participants say

  • "I finally got some training to back up what I do on a daily basis."
  • "I will be more direct with suicidal people now that I understand, to a fuller extent, that what I say thoroughly impacts the situation."
  • "Wonderful training, my whole department needs this."
  • {2jtab: Pricing}


    By completing all 6 hours of training, volunteers, students, and paid professionals may earn the "QPR for EMS Certificate in Suicide Prevention." The fee is the same for the QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention (shorter program) and the QPR for EMS Certificate in Suicide Prevention (longer program). When both sections are passed, the leaner is awarded the final certificate.

    Individual certificate pricing:

    Certificate of Course Completion (6 hours) Pricing

    Per person










    Large employers may purchase unlimited use license with customized content @ $9.50 per employee per year (3 year minimum contract).

    For any questions with pricing, please contact Brian Quinnett @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Thank you for helping to prevent suicide.

    Free Instructor Manual

    To receive a complimentary supplemental First Responder Instructor Manual and teaching slides for this course, please email Brian Quinnett, National Training Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he will send you the materials via email. You may then download and print them, build your own 3-ring binder, and conduct the follow up recommended online training sessions.