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Recognising the warning signs can prevent suicides

Console has trained hundreds of people in various communities to look for ways to help save lives from suicide.
Oct 13th 2013, 8:15 AM 12,696 31

SUICIDE PREVENTION AND support group, Console, is hoping to train more ordinary Irish citizens to recognise the warning signs before somebody takes his or her own life.

The charity has seen hundreds of people participate in a number of practical, one-day programmes, introducing them to their Question, Persuade and Refer scheme (QPR).

It has already saved lives, claims founder and chief executive Paul Kelly.

“Communities are taking ownership of the crisis and it is becoming a great movement,” he told

“We have had great demand from areas where there are high rates of suicide. For example, people from the farming community have taken part. There has also been a high uptake from those who work with young people.”

Feedback from trainees has also been wholly positive, added Kelly.

“We have found HR managers tell us that they would have felt inadequate or ill-equipped to broach the issue with staff prior to QPR. Also, more employees are willing to be forthright about self-harming or suicide ideation if they have actively participated in the programme.

It has made a difference already. It has saved lives.

And, it is not about taking on a heavy burden, continues Kelly.

“It is daunting to confront someone and you may get an answer you don’t want to hear. But this programme trains you to be proactive and have the know-how to get a person through the crisis, which is often temporary.”

What to expect?

“Question, persuade and refer are three simple steps that anyone can quickly learn to help save a life from suicide,” explains Console.

“Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognise the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.

People considering suicide often feel very isolated and alone. They may feel that nobody can help them or understand their pain.

“When unable to see any other way of dealing with pain, suicide may seem to be a way out.”

Those who take part in the courses become known as ‘gatekeepers’, people who have learned how to recognise the warning signs of suicide and how to offer hope and help. They can be health care professionals, parents, friends, neighbours, teachers, doctors, nurses, priests, work colleagues, gardaí, caseworkers or others who are strategically positioned.

The lessons include role-play and other knowledge-building exercises. Details of the one-day course can be found here.


  • Samaritans 1850 60 90 90 or email

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634

  • Console 1800 201 890

  • Aware 1890 303 302

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

RCSI: One in five young people is experiencing a mental disorder

Stats: Eight men died by suicide every week in 2011

Related: Second date added as ‘huge demand’ for suicide prevention training

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Sinead O'Carroll


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