Franklin and Marshall was our second stop this tour and though you wouldn’t know it from their hard work, another young chapter. Both the St. Joseph’s University and Franklin & Marshall chapters started this past fall and they are already making huge strides in mental health advocacy on their campuses.
One student’s backpack was especially relevant to this display and community—Matthew Carr. Matthew was a Franklin & Marshall student who lost his life to suicide in December of 2010. Matthew’s Family helped bring the event to campus through funding and support and shared his story and his backpack with other students and faculty throughout the day. We were also able to speak with many students who had known Matthew. There were even quite a few that didn’t know him personally but had heard of him—students talked about his bright personality and his involvement around campus.
During these conversations, we heard of lot of questions about what kind of actions could be taken to be aware of mental health issues, and ways to actively support the cause. Some of the school’s counselors (who were present and incredibly helpful throughout the entire day) had recently been sharing a system called “QPR” as an option for active methods of suicide prevention.
QPR stands for: Question, Persuade, Refer and it gives everyone a chance to be involved in making a difference. It is an open and easy way to reach out to someone that may be quietly suffering. QPR is broken into three easy steps that can save a life:
Question: When you see someone that may be showing signs of suicidal behavior, speak up and ask them how they are feeling. Question them about their motives and how they are dealing with a tough time in their life.
Persuade: Let them know that there are ways to ask for help and tell them that it is okay to talk about their feelings. Remind them that you are here for them and you care about the decisions that they make.
Refer: Go with them to find resources that fit what they’re going through. Reach out to places in the community and on campus. Research online resources with them and make sure to be supportive in their journey to help themselves heal.
It is important to remember what a difference a support system makes to someone that is dealing with mental health issues. Franklin and Marshall has developed a very strong support system between their Active Minds chapter, their counseling center, and other campus resources.