One Question Could Save Someone’s Life

Bridget Britton, Extension Field Specialist, Behavioral Health

The month of May helps us to be aware that warm weather is inching toward Ohio, it is also Mental Health Awareness month. May is a time to help us gain awareness and understanding of persons with mental or behavioral health problems or difficulties. Mental health professionals, such as counselors, are trained and educated to help those struggling with mental or behavioral health challenges. However, did you know that even if you are not a trained professional this may be helpful to those silently struggling? Read on to learn more about a training anyone in the community can take to gain knowledge on how to help those struggling in a potential mental health crisis.

Each person can take training and learn to use a strategy known as QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer). Ever heard of QPR? Here is a parallel comparing QPR to Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. CPR is an emergency action non-medical professionals use to help save the lives of people in cardiac arrest until professional help arrives. While QPR is an intervention strategy that non-mental health professionals use to help someone in an immediate mental health crisis. QPR is a training of a three-step intervention approach. CPR does not certify you as an EMT, as QPR does not certify you as a mental health professional. But QPR may help you deter someone experiencing a mental health crisis such as suicide.

Let’s start with the Q-Question:

  • Questioning (Q) is the most difficult part to work through in the training. How to ask the question in a variety of ways “are you thinking about dying?” is taught during this section of the training

If a person says yes to the Q-Question, then we go to the P-Persuade:

  • During the training, you learn the basics of talking to a person in crisis by ways to P-Persuade them to a variety of tactics for help.
  • Sharing how much they are loved and cared for by either you or someone (if they are strangers to you) is a valuable skill taught during QPR.

Then you the R-Refer:

  • The final step is Refer or R. Many times the person will need professional help in some way, shape, or form. Sometimes that will be the immediate 911 phone call. Other times helping make an appointment with a licensed mental health professional.

Interested in learning more about QPR or attending the training yourself? You can join us virtually on July 17th at 10:30 am. Participants must be over the age of 18 to become certified. Email Bridget Britton at to sign up for the training. Seats are limited. You never know when this training on one question could save someone’s life.

This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team,