Suicide Prevention Training Slated at Or Hadash on March 26 to Teach About Warning Signs


Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, but mental health providers are always looking for ways to reduce the number.

One way to do that is to offer QPR Gatekeeper Training, which teaches attendees how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to ask someone about their suicidal thoughts and how to offer and connect people to help. QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer.”

A QPR Gatekeeper training session is set for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 26 at Or Hadash, 190 Camp Hill Road in Fort Washington. The session is in partnership with the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Taskforce.

Psychologist Dan Schwartz, who will participate in the training, knows firsthand about the subject, as his stepbrother Boaz committed suicide in 2012.

“It was sort of a storm of life stressors that came together,” Schwartz said, noting that his stepbrother had never attempted suicide before, but was dealing with a relationship ending, professional challenges and financial issues.

Anna Trout, a mental health program specialist with the suicide prevention taskforce, said there are about 100 suicides annually in Montgomery County. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) counted about 44,000 suicides — a number she said that is probably a bit low because of death classification issues. And for every death, there are about 25 attempts, she said.

While the number of suicides has remained steady locally, the age groups of those committing suicide has shifted, Trout said. While seniors used to be at the greatest risk, baby boomers and middle-aged Americans have become more likely to do so in the past decade.

Trout speculated that the shift could be tied to the Great Recession in 2008, when many economic fortunes were damaged.

“These were the people with the most to lose,” she said.

Some other suicide-related stats from the CDC:

  • Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24.
  • Gunshot was by far the most common method of suicide in Montgomery County, with hanging and drugs the other two main methods.
  • Between 2008 and 2015, the number of suicides in Montgomery County ranged from a low of 86 in 2008 and 2013 to a high of 118 in 2014. Nearly three in four of those suicides were committed by men.

Schwartz said men are more likely to be successful committing suicide because they tend to use guns, estimating that half of all suicides nationally are committed with a firearm. He pointed out that his stepbrother used a gun after being robbed at gunpoint earlier in his life; the stepbrother later bought a gun for protection.

Trout expects a mix of community members, providers and loss survivors to attend the training sessions.

“It’s really designed for people who aren’t already involved in mental health,” she said.

Schwartz said training will address pills, cutting and other methods of suicide aside from guns, but will also address gun safety measures, such as locks and safes.

It also will look at warning signs, such as relationship loss, unemployment, financial woes, drug/alcohol use, history of mental illness, mood/behavior changes, the giving away of belongings and the ways people talk about their lives.

“We want to get people to look at the value in their lives,” Schwartz said.

While the event is being held at a synagogue, it is open to all, Schwartz said. Although there’s no specific data on the subject, Schwartz didn’t believe Jews were more or less prone to suicide than others.

Also speaking at the event will be Or Hadash Rabbi Joshua Waxman, who will welcome participants and Patti Dille of Franconia, whose 17-year-old son, Matthew, committed suicide in 2014.

For more information about the training session, contact Schwartz at 215-646-3695 or at

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, the Montgomery County Mobile Crisis can be reached at 1-855-634-4673, the National Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-TALK and there’s a National Crisis Text Line available at 741741.

Contact:; 215-832-0797


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