Suicide Prevention Blog Series: Clinical Tip #3

by Staff and Faculty of the QPR Institute Thursday, October 31, 2013

In honor of the launch of the HelpPRO Suicide Prevention Therapist Finder (see Press Release) we bring you this five part series of clinical tips with the most up to date research and thinking on suicide prevention.

Paul Quinnett, PhD, President and CEO, The QPR Institute, Inc., says 22 veterans will take their own lives today.  So will someone's daughter, a brother, a co-worker, and far too many working men and grandfathers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in just one day, more then 105 of our fellow Americans will die by suicide. Perhaps this clinical tip will save just one.

Clinical Tip #3 -- Quick and Effective Response can Save Lives ...

The vast majority of all residential and inpatient suicides occur by hanging.  From the restrictive closure of the air passage, unconsciousness occurs in 30 seconds, death in four minutes.  Saving a life from a hanging attempt requires quick and efficient action.  Emergency rescue tools have become a standard piece of equipment for responding to such events, including the now widely used "911 rescue knife." These are specially designed knives with a hooked and protected blade that allow the victim to be cut down quickly and without injury.  Because the blade is located inside the frame of the tool it cannot be utilized as a life-threatening weapon in the hands of a potentially violent person.  Fire fighters and paramedics have used them for years to cut seat belts off trapped victims.

If you work in a residential or inpatient facility, consider securing 911 rescue knives and training staff in how to access and use them quickly.  When a consumer is found hanging, every second counts.  Once a victim is discovered any time lost trying to remove a ligature by hand - and especially if unassisted - may delay rescue and lead to a preventable injury or death.  More precious time may be lost if staff cannot locate the knife or, once in hand, they are unfamiliar with how to use it.  Good safety management practices require knowledge and practice.  If fire drills save lives, so can "cut down" drills.

The QPR Institute ( provides Online Advanced Suicide Prevention Courses for a wide range of professionals including: Mental health professionals, school counselors, crisis line workers, substance abuse professionals, EMS/firefighters, law enforcement, primary care providers, nurses and correctional workers. For more information please visit our full library of advanced courses! 
Paul Quinnett, PhD., Founder & CEO QPR Institute,


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