QPR Suicide Prevention Training Courses

QPR for Pharmacists

Welcome and Orientation

The QPR for Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants training program provides 3+ hours of training to meet the requirements of emerging state licensing laws. Learners may opt to complete more modules, but a minimum of three hours is required to complete the course.

Given the time constraints busy professionals are under to complete new training, this course is modularized into many brief learning sections or steps, each of which can be completed in a few minutes. The course is self-paced and open for a full year so that learners can log in and out of the course to complete modules as time is available.

Major breakdowns

In addition to basic QPR training and screening for suicide risk, and required special attention to “assessment of issues related to imminent harm via lethal means”  this course also includes an introductory lecture on the size and scope of suicide and the burden of suffering, a best-practice registered training in Counseling on Access to Lethal Means, basic helping skills for assisting suicidal patients, and how to communicate effectively with those who have attempted suicide and those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

For learners interested in advanced training in how to conduct a suicide risk assessment, formulate and document assessed risk, and manage risk over time please see the QPRT or QPR Suicide Triage training programs.

About the training

This training program focuses on the development of individual learner knowledge and skills. The QPR Institute offers a comprehensive, integrated systems approach to suicide risk reduction for all levels of organizational structure, staff, faculty, students or consumers. Please visit our home web page for more information and/or send us an inquiry. The purpose of this training is to provide basic information about suicide and how to prevent it.

From this 3-hour training program, participants should be able to:

    • Identify suicide as a major public health problem
    • Identify the common myths and facts surrounding suicide
    • Describe how to inquire about suicidal intent and desire
    • Describe at least three suicide warning signs
    • Recognize at least three risk factors for suicide
    • Recognize at least three protective factors against suicide
    • Assess issues related to imminent harm via lethal means
    • Demonstrate increased knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and intent to act to intervene with suicidal people and patients
    • Identify unique verbal, behavioral, and situational suicide warning signs
    • Know how to engage and assist a suicidal colleague or co-worker
    • Conduct an initial screening interview to detect suicide risk and refer the person to care
    • 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
    • Describe "means restriction" and identify individual characteristics and environmental features that may increase or decrease the risk for suicide
    • Know what crisis materials, phone numbers, and family information to provide when the patient leaves the hospital or point of care site



This course is about our shared mission to help suicidal people and their families and reduce the burden of suffering from this major public health problem. Pharmacists work in a wide range of settings where they have a unique opportunity to identify and assist suicidal patients.

A young miner has his foot crushed by a rock fall. After surgery it is clear he will never do heavy manual labor again. As he explores his options for care, and picks up his prescription for the pain medications he has been prescribed, he says to his pharmacist, "If I can't work I might as well be dead.  Maybe if I take all of these at once people won’t have to worry about me anymore.”

Question: Will the pharmacist recognize this statement as a possible suicide warning sign and intervene?

Pharmacists work with some of the most at-risk patients and populations identified by suicide prevention researchers: youth, elders, and those suffering from life-threatening illnesses or career-changing injuries.

Missed opportunities

Many pharmacists are in a strategic position to recognize the impact certain accident-injuries, and diseases, have on the psychological well-being of their patients. Working with pain patients, they are fully aware of the role major depressive disorder plays in recovery and rehabilitation. They also have professional knowledge of medications that can be lethal in overdose, and in initiating addictions.

Knowing more about suicide prevention is key to their role in providing hope to the hopeless and, sometimes, support and compassion to those who have attempted suicide and caused serious injury to themselves. Where an ED staff may "punish" a suicidal patient for a serious act of self-harm resulting in a medical disability, the pharmacists may be in a position to provide acceptance, respect, and compassion -- all life-saving interventions.

As a pharmacist - and if you have yet to be confronted with a suicidal patient - a suicide attempt, or a suicide completion, it is pretty much a fact of life that you will be at some time in the course of your professional career encounter a patient at elevated risk for suicidal behavior.

You may also encounter people at risk for suicide among your peers and co-workers and - though we hope not - even among family and loved ones.

Opportunities to save lives and rationale for this training program

Pharmacists have a potentially high degree of line-of-duty exposure to suicidal patients, both in the pre-attempt phase (when suicidal persons are communicating intent and desire to attempt suicide via suicide warning signs), and sometimes after a suicide attempt when a depressed patient has been prescribed medications for a mood disorder.  These contact interchanges may present opportunities to help suicidal patients.

Our number one goal? Patient Safety and zero suicides. Yes, zero suicides. The Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has established a goal of zero suicides in behavioral health and health care settings. Read about it at: http://actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org

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.

Moreover, 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.

OPTIONAL BACKGROUND NOTE: Our clinical training programs are 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 Public Health. These early developmental partners produced content, training programs, assessment protocols and standardized approaches to the detection, assessment and management of suicide risk both in community and clinical settings.

With a focus on suicide prevention and patient safety, these training programs have been researched and tested in hundreds of sites over the past 20 years and are currently in use in hundreds of service provider organizations and psychiatric hospitals. It is from these well researched educational programs that the following online training has been derived.

We believe that pharmacists need to know as much about suicidal behaviors and how to intervene to reduce risk and enhance patient 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.

  • By proceeding to registration, participants attest to having the basic competencies and technical proficiencies in the use of computers to complete this course.
  • 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.