Nenana Wellness Coalition
March 10, 2015
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had 9 participants today: Bonnie Reed, Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Megan Spencer, Bonnie Reed, Mary Alexander, Kathy Morgan, Sarah McConnell and Hannah Boone. We enjoyed pork and beef meatballs with penne pasta rustica , sweet and spicy pickles, mixed green salad, sliced assorted fruits and rhubarb crisp for lunch.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Sarah McConnell was here from Fairbanks to present the QPR material to us along with Kathy Morgan. Sarah introduced her niece, Hannah, who is in Alaska visiting from Colorado.
QPR Suicide Prevention Training: Kathy and Sarah presented a two hour QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention. The web sites states that: QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR is a simple educational program that teaches ordinary citizens how to recognize a mental health emergency and how to get a person at risk the help they need. It is also an action plan that can result in lives saved. The goal of the QPR Gatekeeper training is to teach people how to recognize the warning signs of suicide , know how to offer hope and know how to get help and save a life.
Sarah explained that the training we were receiving today has been changed dramatically from the original materials they learned to present as the result of feedback they received from participants the past couple of years as the training was held in villages around Alaska. It has been changed to use language that reflects community norms and expanded with information provided by previous participants to make it more rural/remote Alaska specific. As they presented the material, they encouraged comments and questions.
With QPR, the following Chain of Survival elements must be in place:
• Early recognition of suicide warning signs. The sooner warning signs are detected and help sought, the better the outcome of a suicide crisis will be.
• Early QPR. Asking someone about the presence of suicidal thoughts and feelings opens up a conversation that may lead to a referral for help.
• Early intervention and referral. Referral to local resources or calling 1-800-Suicide for evaluation and possible referral is critical, as most people thinking about suicide are suffering from an undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness or substance abuse disorder for which excellent treatments exist. Also, the offering of hope and social and spiritual support can often avert a suicide attempt
• Early professional assessment and treatment. As with any illness, early detection and treatment results in better outcomes and fewer lives lost to suicide.
The trainers emphasized the need for early recognition of suicide warning signs. They explained that a well-executed, strong and positive response to the early warning signs of a pending suicide event may render subsequent links in the Chain of Survival unnecessary. The early recognition of suicide warning signs, confirming their presence, and opening a supporting dialogue with a suicidal person – while securing a consultation from 1-800-SUICIDE, the Alaska Careline and/or or a professional – may prevent the need for an emergency room visit or inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.
Sarah reviewed national and statewide statistics on suicide and identified some of the classic dynamics (personal, biological and economic factors), triggers and warning signs of suicidality. She explored some of the resiliency factors that we know help build resistance to suicidal thoughts and gestures. We discussed how substance use is a particular hazard and the part culture can play. Kathy corrected some of the commonly held myths about suicide and walked us through identifying the local resources within our community that would enable any of us to utilize the QPR process.
We learned about and discussed direct cues and indirect cues from people who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings and behavioral and situational clues that might trigger asking The Question of a person. We discussed some of the barriers that prevent people from asking others directly about possible suicidal ideation. We learned verbiage that could be most effective in asking someone about whom we may have concern. Lastly, we talked about follow up which may or may not include literally walking with someone to assist them in accessing mental health services.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: When we’re through with this earth and all these problems, we don’t have to come back. But as long as we’re here we have a job to do and a purpose to fulfill, and that means dealing with the circumstances around us.” ——-Rolling Thunder, Cherokee
UPDATES/ANNOUNCEMENTS: None today.
ADJOURNMENT: 3:15 PM