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Counseling Suicidal People: a Therapy of Hope

  • CE Credits: 10
  • Course Type: Online
  • Course Completion Time: 10-12 hours
  • Price: $119
  • Author: Paul Quinnett, PhD

Course Features

  • 100% Online
  • Self Paced
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Interactive Practice Challenges
  • Thought challenges
  • Surveys
  • Rich Content
  • Zero suicide training

Course Description

If you are uncomfortable working with suicidal patients, you are not alone.  Research shows that the vast majority of clinicians fear the suicidal patient.  Therapist fear of patients is never a good thing in the healing arts, and distancing oneself from a patient expressing suicidal desire is not uncommon, and may even lead to increased suicide risk among those served. 

Yet suicidal patients are not rare.  In some settings, "suicidality" is the ticket of admission for both inpatient and outpatient care. Research on this topic is underway.   

Note: If you are only interested in the book, you may purchase it at: http://www.qprinstitute.com/bookstore.html. Kindle editions in English and Spanish are available at http://www.amazon.com/Paul-G.-Quinnett/e/BOO1K86DNY

Why This Course

Around the world today more than 2,500 people will kill themselves.

The World Health Organization estimates that as many as one million people may die by suicide each year, and that many millions more attempt suicide each year.

Most of these people will never have had an opportunity to benefit from what you can learn in this course.

If you are a mental health professional, substance abuse counselor, psychiatric nurse, school, correctional, church counselor or anyone with professional training who is in a position to work with, counsel, and help suicidal people survive a life-threatening crisis, this book-based study program could prove very valuable.

This online training program is based on Counseling Suicidal People: A Therapy of Hope written by the course author. This is the 3rd edition of this time-tested, condensed, easy-to-read work of just 213 pages. Additional files, notes on how to cope with suicide events in the counselor's practice, short lecture videos, audio files, author commentary, and other materials enrich the basic text.

From the book cover, here is Dr. Alan Berman, Executive Director the American Association of Suicidology: “It has taken me 30 years and much trial and error to amass the wisdom, insight, and understanding Paul Quinnett has crammed into this slim volume. With wit and exceptional readability, he has offered the perfect primer for counseling suicidal persons. This simply is the best no-nonsense guide I have ever read to help one to understand and form a collaborative, working relationship with someone in suicidal despair. As his title suggests, there is hope: and Paul Quinnett has packaged it between these covers!”

It is not if, but when

The question for those working in the field of human services – from probation officers to pastoral counselors to psychotherapists – is not whether you will meet a suicidal client, but when?

The next question is: Are you prepared for this always challenging encounter?

Having worked with hundreds of suicidal patients over more than four decades of practice, and having trained thousands of clinicians for the last 30 years, and having kept up with the scientific literature on suicide and its prevention, I believe I can help you meet that suicidal client with a sense of self-efficacy, calm and confidence.

I cannot stress how important this calm and confidence about working with suicidal people will be for you, but I can stress - from the client's point of view - how important these qualities are to people considering suicide.

Speaking for clients everywhere, I can think of nothing more frightening or hope destroying than to meet with an uninformed, uncomfortable counselor so terrified of suicide that he or she can't even broach the subject.

Yet research shows this is exactly what happens every day in doctor's offices, counselors offices, emergency rooms, and a thousand other settings all across America and around the world.

Following developing social policy recommendations on suicide prevention training, a White Paper on the failures of our training institutions to prepare helpers for their professions is to be published by the American Association of Suicidology in late 2011 or 2012. This paper will - we authors hope - stir action to enhance client safety by requiring the kind of training contained in this course.

A link to this paper will be available on the QPR Institute web site when it is published.

In the meantime, you don't have to be a counselor that confirms the suicidal client's worst fear - "My God, they can't even talk about it!" Rather, you can become someone who saves lives.

Where surgeons save lives with scalpels and stitches, counselors save them with words and empathy.

Learn how here, now.

Course Parameters

  • Time required: 6 to 10 hours, depending on reading speed and how much time the learner explores web links and optional files
  • National Board of Certified Counselor's continuing education credits awarded: 10
  • A Basic Helping Skills module is optional, but contains skill highlights known to be effective with suicidal clients
  • The course is designed to be useful for office practice as well as online e-counseling
  • To earn the printable course certificate the learner must complete all modules and pass all quizzes
  • 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
  • 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, nor does completing this training program attest to the specific counseling competencies of the learner.

Note: this training program teaches initial and basic suicide risk assessment skills. Advanced suicide risk assessment training and documentation skills for healthcare professionals are available from the QPR Institute in a course entitled: QPRT Suicide Risk Assessment and Risk Management Training.

Content Highlights

  • Encountering suicidal clients
  • The language of suicide
  • The journey of suicide from idea to act
  • Intervention when it is easy and when it is hard
  • Six steps to life-saving crisis intervention
  • Dealing with resistance to help
  • How to decide to hospitalize someone suicidal
  • Voluntary and involuntary hospitalization
  • Sound risk management practices
  • Evidence-based treatments: what works?
  • So-called no-suicide contracts: pros and cons
  • Alternative/non-traditional interventions
  • Screening tools for serious mental illness
  • 38 specific non-medical therapeutic interventions


The author has selected dozens of specific counseling interventions which can be picked up from this course and added to the counselor's tool box.

Some of these techniques and strategies will be immediately useful with both suicidal and non-suicidal clients.

These interventions are based on supporting science and the author's more than 40 years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist specializing in treating suicidal clients. Strategies include everything from diet, exercise, deep breathing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, family interventions,bibliotherapy, and empowerment moves, as well how to use self-disclosure, reduce shame and fear, and generate new reasons to live for those who are thinking about suicide.

The vast majority of these interventions are low-cost, easy-to-use, and non-medical counseling solutions that do not require extensive training or certification.

Learner goals:

  • Demonstrate increased knowledge about suicide and its causes
  • Identify unique verbal, behavioral, and situational suicide warning signs during counseling sessions
  • Know how to inquire about suicidal intent and desire
  • Know how to engage suicidal clients with empathy and understanding
  • Apply multiple intervention strategies with suicidal clients
  • Know how to immediately reduce the acute distress, despair, and hopelessness being experienced by the suicidal client
  • Know how to help the suicidal client make a personal safety and survival plan
  • 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
  • Describe the relationship of mental illness and substance abuse to suicide and understand the fundamentals of our current knowledge about suicide and its prevention

Blurbs from the cover

"This work eloquently captures the essence of the most sophisticated interventions, that of the healing relationship of hope." - Dr. Ronald Bonner, Journal of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.

"Very illuminating! Gave me a clear understanding of suicidal pain and what I can do to relieve it." -Steve Pitters, Family Advocate and Counselor, USAF

"Paul Quinnett has a hard-earned advantage over most of us in suicide prevention work..., he has spent years in therapeutic relationship with many more suicidal people than we may ever encounter. His willingness to not only work with them and to keep them alive but to learn the lessons they impart to him, is generously shared in this book to benefit us all. Short of having Dr. Quinnett standing next to me or any hotline volunteer as we try to help suicidal people find reasons to live, this book does the next thing. It gives us knowledge and insight we need but may never be able to learn firsthand."- Karen M. Marshall, Program Development Director, American Association of Suicidology

"Paul Quinnett has done it again. In his plain-spoken yet compassionate style, he communicates sound strategies for connecting with and helping suicidal individuals. Counseling Suicidal People deserves a place on the desk of every crisis worker and therapist who works with suicidal individuals. I will assign it to our psychology interns and psychiatry residents." - Thomas E. Ellis, Psy.D. ABPP, Professor of Psychology, West Virginia University School of Medicine.


NOTE: If you intend to purchase more than one course, please contact Dana Zavala at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Individual certificate pricing:

Certificate of Course Completion (6 hours) Pricing

Per person










Large employers may inquire about discounted unlimited use licenses for our bundled institutional courses (3 year minimum contract is required).

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.



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National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
QPR Institute (QPRI) has been approved by NBCC as an
Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5889.
Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.
QPRI is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for complimentary review access.