Training to enhance mental health, prevent suicide

Apr. 17—HERMITAGE — An upcoming training session will help participants become gatekeepers and potentially save lives among those considering taking their own lives.

The "QPR Gatekeeper Training" session is being offered through a collaboration between the City of Hermitage and the Mercer County Suicide Prevention Network.

The training will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 9 in the Technology Lab at 3050 Prosperity Place, Hermitage, according to the event flyer.

The training is aimed at enhancing mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and will equip participants with the skills to recognize warning signs, engage in meaningful conversations, and guide individuals toward professional help.

Hence the meaning of QPR, or Question, Persuade and Refer, since participants will learn how to question, persuade and refer someone to help, according to the announcement.

Among those interested in the upcoming training session were the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter's board of directors, who encouraged the community to attend this "life-saving training."

Animal rescue organizations members are especially encouraged to participate and become "gatekeepers," since a gatekeeper can mean anyone — including a coach, teacher, police officer, friend or animal rescue worker.

"For many people that are alone, their pet gives them purpose," said Duane Piccirilli, an SVAS board member and executive director of the Mahoning County, Ohio, Mental Health and Recovery Board.

"If they appear at a shelter and give up their dog or cat for no reason, this training will help the shelter staff recognize the signs and contact a local professional," he said.

Animal shelter Board Chairman Tom Hubert said one of his goals is to establish a quarterly meeting of animal rescue groups' presidents and managers to discuss common concerns such as fundraising, staff recruitment and training.

"I think making them all aware of the QPR is a great start," Hubert said.

To register, visit the city's website at, then click the "Register Now" button. After being taken to a new page, click the "Active Net" button to view a page with the QPR training.

The training session is free and not exclusive to Hermitage residents. However, participants must register beforehand, Hermitage Director of Recreation and Community Development Jessica Gotch said.

Up to 30 people can participate in the training. As of Wednesday, there were 19 openings still available.

For anyone in need of assistance, the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission's mental health crisis or emergency 24-hour hotline is 724-662-2227 and the suicide and crisis lifeline is 988.

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