Heading down to Florida to attend my first IWLCA Annual Meeting was both exciting and nerve wracking. I was nervous because I am only in my second year of coaching and still feel very new to the coaching world. On the other hand, I was extremely excited about the potential sessions I could attend throughout the week, especially the QPR training.
As the Graduate Assistant Coach at Catholic University, I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach while working towards a graduate degree. I am pursuing a master’s degree in psychology with the eventual career goal of helping athletes who are struggling with mental health challenges and to work on finding intervention techniques that would best prevent athletes from suffering from mental illnesses. With these goals in mind, the QPR training session offered was right up my alley.
QPR training is designed to provide people with tools to recognize the warning signs of people who may be showing signs of suicide ideation and the proper steps to take that could help save their life. “QPR” stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer, representing each step of the process of helping someone that is contemplating suicide. The training was very powerful, and I learned a lot. One aspect of the training that stood out to me the most was some of the statistics the instructors shared with the group. Many of them were related to the fact that suicide affects everyone and does not discriminate. This was powerful for me because there is a lack of resources for those struggling with suicide and I believe the necessary resources should be easily accessible to everyone. QPR training is available for anyone (no background in psychology needed!) and allows you to help those who are struggling by teaching you to recognize the warning signs of suicide and providing you with guidance for how to help them.
After completing the training, I feel confident that I can have these difficult conversations with my student-athletes. I feel comfortable being able to recognize any warning signs of an athlete in crisis and how to correctly direct our conversation to assist them in receiving professional help. The training truly is impactful, and I recommend other coaches to seek out the training if they were unable to attend the IWLCA Annual Meeting. I was so moved by the training that I feel inclined to share the information with the rest of the athletic department at my institution. It is crucial that coaches who spend a lot of time around young adults, who are in a time that they are most vulnerable and susceptible to issues with their mental health, have more awareness to recognize the warning signs. I hope is that everyone who attended the QPR training sessions will share their experiences with their athletic department. These small actions could save a life.
[Editor’s Note: The IWLCA worked with the Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force to offer QPR training to interested members attending the 2019 IWLCA Annual Meetings. The IWLCA would like to thank Laurie Hay, Carol Harkins, and Francesca Pileggi, the QPR trainers who graciously agreed to attend our meetings and work with our membership. We encourage any interested coaches who missed the training sessions to consider seeking out a local training opportunity.]