Suicide Prevention Training Sessions Will Be Offered Here Oct. 20

CPR — cardiopulmonary resuscitation — is widely recognized as a life-saving technique, one that everyone is encouraged to learn. You don’t have to work in the medical field to administer CPR. Having regular folks know what to do when someone stops breathing often means care can begin immediately, as emergency response teams are on their way.

Peggy Reed-Lohmeyer, MSW, a licensed clinical social worker and 1985 graduate of Washington High School who now works as assistant director of social services at Fulton State Hospital, is hopeful that another lifesaving technique will become equally as widespread.

“QPR, which stands for question, persuade, refer, are the steps to suicide prevention,” said Reed-Lohmeyer, who will be in Washington next Saturday, Oct. 20, to offer two QPR Gatekeeper training sessions at First United Methodist Church, 4349 St. John’s Road, Washington.

“You ask the question, you persuade them to get help and you refer them,” she explained. “The idea is not that those who are trained as QPR Gatekeepers will provide in-depth interventions, just that they will help someone in need get to someone who can help them.

“QPR purposefully sounds like CPR,” Reed-Lohmeyer noted. “In our country we want everyone to know CPR so they can save a life. The same can be said of QPR. For both, if you know the warning signs and how to get help for someone in a crisis, either medical or suicide risk, you can save a life.”

Those warning signs come in the form of direct and indirect verbal clues, behavioral clues and situational clues, all of which will be covered at the training session, said Reed-Lohmeyer. One of the most important things that will be taught at the training is how to ask someone the question — is he or she considering suicide.

“Helping people become comfortable or at least able to ask someone if they are considering suicide and how to get them to help is critical,” said Reed-Lohmeyer. “Often it is our own fear that holds us back.

“Ultimately a person considers suicide because they see no other option and they have such a strong desire to stop the pain they are feeling. It is estimated that 90 percent of people who attempt suicide meet the criteria to be diagnosed with a mental illness, typically depression.

“In addition to typically suffering from depression there is also often a stressor or crisis situation that dramatically increases the risk of some considering suicide,” said Reed-Lohmeyer. “Once this crisis period is over, the person can return to a lengthy period, years and years, of stability, without suicidal actions.”

The QPR training will educate people on the many misconceptions about suicidality, as well as the tragic statistics: Every 17 minutes, at least six Americans lose a loved one to suicide. Most did not have a chance to learn the warning signs, and 66 percent of the individuals who died by suicide showed the warning signs to family and friends.

Reed-Lohmeyer noted that Missouri and especially Franklin County have a higher incidence of suicide than other parts of the country, although there is no clear reason why that is.

Reed-Lohmeyer admits the training may at times be difficult emotionally for people who have a family member or friend who struggles with suicidality or who has lost a loved one to suicide, but that typically is not the case.

“I have not had folks who have loved ones who struggle with depression report it being difficult,” she said. “I have had some who have reported it made it easier for them to understand their loved one better.”

Reed-Lohmeyer noted that the hope in bringing the free QPR Gatekeeper training to Franklin County is to “educate the general public so that everyone recognizes the prevalence of suicide and thus the need to do all that we can to prevent it.”

The QPR Institute has set the goal of having one in every four persons trained.

Training Is Free, Two Sessions Offered

The QPR Gatekeeper training that will be offered here next Saturday is free, but limited to only 20 participants per session. Preregistration is required.

Session times are 10 a.m. to noon or 1 to 3 p.m.

Each session will include a time for questions and discussion. Participants will be given reference materials to bring home.

To register, people should contact the First United Methodist Church office at 636-239-4477.

The training is open to anyone, but it’s especially important for those who are in a position to help — teachers, coaches, youth leaders, clergy, doctors, nurses, people who care for the elderly, as well as anyone who has family members being treated for depression, bipolar disorder or other mental health illnesses.

“Suicide is the most preventable form of death and anyone who has any kind of contact with other people is a great person to attend this training,” said Reed-Lohmeyer.

Over 20 Years’ Clinical Experience

Reed-Lohmeyer, who will lead the QPR Gatekeeper training next Saturday, has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years. She has worked at Fulton State Hospital as a clinical social worker for 17 years, serving in various roles including team leader, social work supervisor and program coordinator.

In March, Reed-Lohmeyer received the National Association of Social Workers, Missouri Chapter Social Worker of the Year award.

This summer she became certified through the QPR Institute to be a QPR Gatekeeper Trainer.

“Last fall I was asked to take the Pillows of Unrest Project to the Out of the Darkness Walk in St. Louis. In working on that I became involved in planning a walk in Fulton,” said Reed-Lohmeyer. “These walks raise funds for suicide prevention, with 50 percent of the funds raised being spent locally.”

“As a clinician on the planning committee I was asked to take on the task of finding programs we could purchase for area schools with the funds we raise. I was also assigned as Fulton State Hospital’s representative on the Callaway County Health Department’s suicide prevention task force. I became aware of QPR through these involvements.

“I was impressed with the reactions I saw others having to this training and when the opportunity came up to be trained as a trainer, I was happy to do that. I provided the training to a group last month and received several positive comments.

“One of the attendees looked me up first thing the next day. He shared with me that through the training he realized that a member of his family was displaying warning signs. He did talk with that family member and shared that not only is that person safer now, but their relationship has opened up and that they communicate at a much deeper level on everything now. It is has been so rewarding to hear his updates and know that it is making a difference.”

Reed-Lohmeyer is the daughter of the late Dennis G. Reed Sr. and Elsie Reed, who farmed in Augusta. She is married to Steve Lohmeyer, a fellow 1985 WHS graduate.