This study will determine whether a training program designed to help school staff members
identify adolescents at risk for suicide will increase the number of students who are
referred to mental health services.
The rate of suicide among adolescents has significantly increased in recent years.
Psychiatric disorders are often associated with increased suicide risk; therefore, the
ability to identify adolescents with signs of depression and other psychiatric conditions is
clear. This study will determine the effectiveness of a suicide prevention training program
called Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) in increasing the number of potentially suicidal
adolescents who are referred to mental health services. The training is designed to help
school staff recognize signs that a student may be suicidal, provide tips on how to question
students about any suicidal thoughts they may have, and provide techniques to persuade
students to seek suicide prevention help.
School staff will be randomly assigned to either receive QPR training for 2 years starting
immediately or be placed on a waiting list for later training. The rates of referral to the
school district's prevention/intervention centers will be used to assess the effectiveness
of QPR training. In addition, the impact of QPR training on school staff members' knowledge
and attitudes about intervening with at-risk students will be assessed through surveys at
four time points over the 2-year study duration with a randomly selected portion of staff in
the 32 participating schools. Surveys completed by randomly selected 8th and 10th grade
students will also be used to determine whether the intervention is effective in reducing
suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Study hypothesis: More students in schools that have Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR)-trained
staff will be referred for a mental health evaluation than in schools without QPR-trained
Inclusion Criteria for School Staff Members:
- Currently working as a staff member in Cobb County school district
Inclusion Criteria for Students:
- Parent or guardian willing to provide informed consent