As human beings, we are all required to deal with personal, professional and family issues, often all at the same time. We may sometimes reach a place in our lives when those issues seem insurmountable. Our view may be further darkened by depression, addiction, or traumatic circumstances. At some point, we may consider suicide as a permanent solution and even a logical choice. Yet in reality, suicide leaves a lasting legacy of pain for family members and leaves those us of left behind forever haunted by the question: What could I have done?
Chip Glaze, director of the Mississippi Bar's Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program (LJAP), is determined to spread the message that suicide is preventable and we can learn to help prevent it.
Chip is in the process of being certified as a "gatekeeper instructor" through the QPR Institute for Suicide Prevention, based in Spokane, Washington. The QPR program — "Question, Persuade, Refer" — was recently recognized by the National Register of Evidence-based Practices and Policies. The Institute reports that more than one million lay and professional suicide prevention "gatekeepers" have been trained in QPR since the Institute's founding in 1996.
Through the program, Chip is learning how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to offer hope, how to get help and how to save a life.
QPR is analogous to CPR. Just as a CPR trainer teaches about the classic signs of a heart attack and how to respond, once certified, Chip will begin teaching about the classic signs of suicide and how to respond. (For more information about the QPR Institute and the QPR
program, see www.qprinstitute.com.)
Chip emphasizes that learning QPR is "not about being a therapist or an expert on suicide. It's about giving lay people the tools when presented with facts or circumstances to help get a person in crisis to a medical professional." Chip also hopes to dispel the myths that might cause a person to be reluctant to take action — for example, the unwarranted fear that mentioning the word "suicide" might cause a person to commit suicide, or that "only crazy people think about suicide."
Among professions, lawyers lead the nation with the highest incidence of depression, which, if left untreated, increases suicide risk.
The Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee had been discussing development of a suicide prevention program for some time, and decided that Chip should be certified as a suicide prevention trainer through the QPR Institute. Among professions, lawyers lead the nation with the highest incidence of depression, which, if left untreated, increases suicide risk. According to Chip, six Mississippi attorneys have committed suicide over the past seven years. The Kentucky Bar is reeling from 12 suicides since 2010, and the Louisiana Bar lost an attorney to suicide as recently as a few weeks ago, he said. Nationally, the rate of suicides among all Americans in the 35 – 64 age group has accelerated since 2008. (The economy is suspected to have played a role.)
Once Chip is certified, he plans to "test run" the QPR training program on the LJA committee, to be followed by a launch of the "full fledged program" in early 2014. Chip will train others to identify the signs of suicide, give them the "skill set and confidence to ask the question, persuade the person to get help, and make a referral" to a professional who can help. Trainees will learn how to "raise an appropriate objection without scaring the person off," Chip said. As with other LJA programs, "education is the primary focus," Chip said.
While the focus of the program will be lawyers, the training will be made available to everyone. This is "not just about work — it's about family and community," he said. Chip also noted that because lawyers often have "special access into people's lives," we are in a unique position to be able to help others. With the launch of QPR in Mississippi, we will have the opportunity to take proactive steps, so we will know we did what we could.
Editor's Note: While our bar dues help support LJAP, according to Chip, receipts for IOLTA — a major source of funding — have decreased some 60% over the past five years. To make a donation to LJAP, write a check to the Mississippi Bar Foundation and note on the check that the donation is earmarked for LJAP.
In addition to education and training, LJAP also offers confidential consultation, referrals to qualified professionals, and in some instances, case management and monitoring. (LJAP services are confidential, voluntary, and completely separate from the Office of General Counsel.)
For more info, contact Chip at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 601-948-0989 or 1-800-593-9777.