Clarksville has a new distinction in the battle against suicide — it’s the first city in Tennessee to provide suicide prevention training to its entire workforce. The training program is known as QPR for Suicide Prevention, which stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer for Suicide Prevention.”
The effort started after the city — then led by former Mayor Kim McMillan — accepted the suicide prevention training challenge issued by the executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), Scott Ridgway. It was continued by the current mayor, Joe Pitts.
In all, TSPN professionals delivered nearly 50 one-hour training sessions to nearly 1,200 city employees from November through April. Misty Leitsch, TSPN’s Zero Suicide director and a Clarksville native, led the bulk of the training, and said its purpose is providing practical and proven methods of identifying and responding to those in crisis.
“We teach individuals how to appropriately ask, what not to say, how to persuade and how to refer,” Leitsch said.
“Clarksville is the first city in the state to mandate and complete this training, which is awesome. They have been very dedicated and committed to getting employees trained.” Leitsch said they also train people to identify suicide warning signs and risk factors, as well as the statistics associated with suicide.
At the same time, a separate Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families has also been rolling out in seven states, intended to create a public health model for suicide prevention at the state and local levels.
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