Mercer Veterans Service Unit Welcomes QPR Training Opportunity

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 in the 15 counties of NW PA. We’d like to share an article about our QPR training that recently appeared on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections News blog. For more than 50 years, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has released a newsletter called “Correctional Newsfront” highlighting great stories involving staff, inmates, parolees and involved in corrections in Pennsylvania. The QPR training event was conducted by Marine Corps Veteran Lee Wagner, who is a member of the program implementation staff.

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MER - 2023 Feb - QPR Suicide Prevention Training VSU2Lee Wagner, senior program implementation specialist from the University of Pittsburgh, visited SCI Mercer’s Veterans Service Unit (VSU) to conduct QPR Suicide Prevention Gate-Keeper training. QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer,” and key components covered in the training included:  how to question, persuade and refer someone who may be suicidal; how to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide; the common causes of suicidal behavior; the warning signs of suicide; and how to get help for someone in crisis.

After the training, Wagner commented that he has never conducted a training that had the level of engagement and authenticity as that of the VSU. He followed up with an email that read, in part: “Personally speaking, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my professional career. Not just the location, but the connection that was made with those who attended.”

MER - 2023 Feb - QPR Suicide Prevention Training VSU Bolt

The training was equally engaging for the VSU participants.  SCI Mercer was the first institution to receive this training from the University of Pittsburgh, but plans are already made to conduct the same training at SCI Houtzdale’s VSU.

As a bonus, Bolt and Gracie, the VSU’s service dogs in training, also attended the training with different goals.  Their presence was definitely beneficial for this important yet emotional training.

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.

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