May is Mental Health Awareness Month

NW PA Counties graphicThe Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families. Because of this focus, we’re providing information about Mental Health Awareness Month and the Talk Away the Dark campaign from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Sharing with personal and professional networks is encouraged.

Talking is the First Step to Preventing Suicide

AFSP logoLast year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention launched the #TalkAwayTheDark campaign to educate people across the country on how to spot the warning signs for suicide and begin a conversation that lets someone who needs support know that help is available.

This May, for Mental Health Awareness Month, AFSP is deepening its message to provide guidance on how to connect someone to help when they feel hesitant to receive support: sharing how to validate the fears and feelings of a person in crisis, letting them know you hear them, and reassuring them there is no shame in getting support for a matter involving their health.

Visit the Talk Away the Dark website to access:

  • Conversation starters
  • What to do if someone tells you they’re thinking of suicide
  • How to talk to a suicide loss survivor
  • Reaching out for help
  • Read true stories from real people

Participate in QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer) Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training can help develop risk awareness and confidence in having open conversations with loved ones. QPR is a 2-hour evidence-based program in which individuals are educated about the warning signs of a suicide crisis then taught how to respond, how to offer hope, and how to get help. Visit our training events calendar to see a list of upcoming dates.

  • Recall facts about suicide and suicide prevention. ​
  • Identify warning signs of suicide. ​
  • Demonstrate how to ask someone directly about their desire or intent regarding suicide. ​
  • Demonstrate verbal and nonverbal skills used to persuade someone who is having thoughts of suicide to seek and accept help. ​
  • Identify local resources available to help someone who is having thoughts of suicide. ​
  • Describe how to get help for someone having thoughts of suicide.

Please contact us with any questions or to schedule a training session for your business, community organization, or professional association. A printable pdf of our training course list is available to download and share.

Looking to Get Involved?

friends standing togetherWhether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

University of Pittsburgh PERU logo