Safe Communities

Safe Communities Madison-Dane County

Suicide Prevention from Safe Communities

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In Dane County we lose 40 – 50 people each year to suicide; 500 are hospitalized or admitted to emergency departments due to injuries sustained during suicide attempts. Suicide is the number one cause of violent death: 74% of violent deaths are suicides. View Dane County data from State of Wisconsin Burden of Suicide Report.

The good news: research tells us that 90% of people who die from suicide have a treatable mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. We know that suicide is often preventable with education, treatment and support. Because suicide is such a complex public health problem the Surgeon General recommends that we engage in prevention strategies community by community to be effective.

Our Strategy:  Safe Communities Suicide Prevention Task Force

  • Work with partners to train at least 500 people each year on QPR - Question, Persuade, Refer (see description below)
  • Through dissemination of gun locks and promotion of MedDrop, reduce easy access to lethal means of suicide among those at risk
  •  Reach our highest at-risk group - middle aged men - through another evidence-based treatment resource called Mantherapy 

Schedule a QPR training at your workplace, church or neighborhood

Safe Communities offers a free QPR (Question Persuade Refer) training where participants learn the warning signs for suicide, how to offer hope, and how to seek help to save a life.

QPR is CPR for Suicide Prevention. QPR stands for:

  • Question the person about suicide
  • Persuade the person to get help
  • Refer them for help

Suicide Prevention Gatekeepers

A gatekeeper is someone trained to recognize a suicide crisis and, because of their training, knows how and where to find help. Why QPR for Suicide Prevention Gatekeepers?

  • QPR gatekeeper training takes just one hour and is taught in a format that is clear, concise, and applicable for a wide variety of audiences. Gatekeepers are given information that is easy to understand, and reinforced by a QPR booklet and card complete with warning signs, methods to encourage a person to get help and a list of resources available in your community.
  • QPR recognizes that even socially isolated individuals usually have some sort of contact within their community (e.g. family, doctors, teachers, employer, banker, counselor, etc.) QPR teaches diverse groups within each community how to recognize the "real crises" of suicide and the symptoms that accompany it.
  • QPR addresses high-risk people within their own environments (verses requiring the individual to initiate requests for support or treatment on their own).
  • QPR offers the increased possibility of intervention early in the depressive and/or suicidal crisis (when the level of suicide may be less).
  • QPR encourages the gatekeeper to take the individual directly to a treatment provider and/or community resource.
  • QPR stresses active follow-up on each intervention that occurs.The individual trained in QPR often plays a preexisting role in the at-risk person's life. This increases the sense of continuity, support likelihood of a positive resolution.

For more information contact Cheryl Wittke, at Safe Communities at 608-256-6713.

Suicide Crisis Line Telephone Numbers

Dane County Suicide Crisis Line: (608) 280-2600

National Suicide Prevention Line:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
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Thanks to Dane County for its generous financial support of Safe Communities, and to all Suicide Prevention Task Force members for their commitment of time and resources to this collaborative effort.