Ask a question, save a life

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

By Mariah Winstead, EKU intern

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked suicide as the number two leading cause of death in the United States for ages 10–34, second only to unintentional injuries. This public health issue accounted for 42,773 deaths in America that same year, resulting in 12.8 suicides per minute.

Kentucky has the 18th highest overall suicide rate in the country and had 701 deaths classified as suicides in 2013, according to the most recent data. Suicides outnumber homicides in Kentucky by nearly 3 to 1, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month with Sept. 5-11 being National Suicide Prevention Week. During this month, there will be educational opportunities available throughout the country and locally to raise awareness of suicide prevention. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline encourages individuals to wear purple and turquoise suicide prevention ribbons to symbolize suicide awareness and to serve as a reminder that suicide is an issue we need to talk about.

Throughout this month, leaders in suicide prevention across Kentucky will be embracing and offering national training initiatives to educate people of all ages about suicide. The hope is to educate people through “layperson’s training” or “gatekeeper training” to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to get help, and where to go for help. This training provides information on a basic level of suicide risk factors and warning signs.

The Clark County Health Department offers QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention classes to train anyone to be a gatekeeper. QPR is a training program developed to aid in suicide prevention. It offers information that could help save the life of a student, friend, colleague, family member, neighbor or anyone. Any person who may come in contact with someone thinking of suicide is considered a gatekeeper. Gatekeeper classes teach suicide warning signs, risk factors, myths and facts about suicide, how to question someone about suicidal intent, and how or where to get help for the person at risk.

Classes will be taught by Carolyn Burtner, Health Educator III and certified QPR instructor. There is no fee for the classes, but those interested should call the health department at 744-4482 to register for the classes.

The following classes have been scheduled:

— Wednesday from, 2-4 p.m., Clark County Health Department

— Thursday from 6-8 p.m., health department

— Friday from 10 a.m. – noon, health department

— Monday, Sept. 19, from  6-8 p.m., health department

Everyone has a responsibility to prevent suicides. Have you ever had a loved one or even an acquaintance express feelings of hopelessness, having no reason for living, anxiety, increased substance abuse, or being withdrawn and you weren’t sure how to respond? Make an effort to attend one of these workshops and become familiar with information that could help you save a life.

Asking a question and listening may be all it takes to save a life. You never know when you may have the opportunity to prevent a suicide and make a real impact on someone. Suicide is a reality that won’t go away, and a life is too much to lose.

For more information, about the classes, or to schedule a QPR class with your group/organization, contact Carolyn Burtner at (859)744-4482 or

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8233).