Purdue Student Government pushed to require suicide prevention and sensitivity training for faculty and teaching assistants with a resolution Wednesday night.
The “Questions, Persuade and Refer” training aims to give faculty the skills to recognize suicide warning signs and offer hope and help to their students, according to the resolution passed by the student senate.
“We think that one of the biggest things that students have issues with on campus is that teachers and TAs don’t care about what they’re struggling with,” co-author of the resolution Grace Brooks said. “Requiring professors and TAs to have mandatory QPR training brings sensitivity to this topic.”
The resolution cited the two Purdue students who died by suicide in 2020, along with other national statistics regarding depression, anxiety and suicide among young people, as reasons underscoring the necessity for suicide-specific faculty training.
Days before the end of the Fall 2020 semester, there was confusion and outrage among many students when the Purdue University Police Department reported three suicides over the semester, according to previous reporting by The Exponent. The figures were later updated to reflect that there had been one suicide, but reporting protocol led to suicide attempts being recorded as suicides, according to Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty.
This backlash sparked the student-led “Occupy Hovde” movement. One of the items on the organizers’ list of demands was increased accountability for professors.
Mandatory QPR training for faculty would help to lower the number of deaths by suicide at Purdue by making it easier for students to seek help through their instructors and TAs, the resolution says.
QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training is a program created by the QPR Institute to teach participants how to recognize the signs of someone in crisis and refer them to help, according to the organization’s website.
Several of these virtual two-hour training sessions were offered in the fall to students, faculty and staff by the Office of the Dean of Students, according to the Purdue website. The website likened QPR training to CPR and Heimlich training.
The QPR Institute also offers a more extensive program that teaches participants how to administer the standard training. PSG President Assata Gilmore spoke about offering standard “gatekeeper training” as well as training students and faculty members to administer these lessons.
“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on an open wound,” Gilmore said, “but you have to start somewhere.”
After recently announcing their proposed addition of a J-term, PSG Vice President Hannah Darr said Wednesday that the only extra fee participating students with housing contracts would pay is a meal plan.
Aside from the meal plan fee, there would be no other activities fees for buildings like the Cordova Recreational Sports Center and no differential costs across academic colleges, Darr said.
Reading Day Events
PSG and other student organizations will host Reading Day events next Wednesday. Gilmore stressed the importance of students, faculty and staff taking the day to relax and focus on their mental health.
Fall Break in 2021
The Fall 2021 semester is set to have a standard academic calendar, Darr said. This will include a fall break. This comes after the announcement last week that there will be no fully online option in the fall.