Suicide Prevention Program Available for Faith Community Leaders

April 19, 2021, 1:23 pm | Demi Johnson

Sad teen and a hand offering help by Antonioguillem/, Iowa – As communities across Iowa continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges continue to impact Iowans at alarming rates.

Suicide is among the top five leading causes of death for Iowans between the ages of 10 and 54 years old, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Additionally, over five times as many people died by suicide in 2019 than in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents – the most recent data suggests little to no improvement in suicide trends as Iowans recover from the pandemic.  

In response to this continuing impact, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering “Question. Persuade. Refer.” programs to faith community members across the state now through June. QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

“Faith community leaders often regularly encounter and can help individuals who are in distress or at elevated risk for suicide, yet many faith leaders have not had specific and evidence-based suicide prevention training that would be beneficial to their work,” said Danielle Day, a human sciences specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

“Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help,” Day explained.

ISU Extension and Outreach will offer QPR on Tuesday, May 4, and Tuesday, June 1, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday, May 20, and Thursday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Each program will last for one hour. Private classes for groups of 10-20 participants are also available upon request.

This program is offered to support clergy, leaders and lay members of any faith community. Clergy, congregation members, youth group leaders, volunteers and other concerned individuals can register at no cost for any of these programs. To register, go to Participants will receive a unique URL prior to the program to access the Zoom hosted program. For more information, or to schedule a private group class, contact Demi Johnson at demij@iastate.

Other resources

Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website,, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.

COVID Recovery Iowa offers a variety of services to anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual counselors and consultants provide counseling, family finance consultation, farm financial consultation, referral information and help finding resources for any Iowan seeking personal support. Iowans of all ages may join groups online for activities and learn creative strategies for coping with the effects of the pandemic. COVID Recovery Iowa will announce upcoming programs on the website and via all social media to help Iowans build coping skills, resilience and emotional support. To request support, go to

Finding Answers Now. As Iowans deal with disruptions to their families and communities, this website at provides information to help you cope with concerns about stress and relationships, personal finance, and nutrition and wellness.

211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral line linking Iowa residents to health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs. This service is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide confidential assistance, stress counseling, education and referral services related to COVID-19 concerns.


Photo credit: Antonioguillem/

About the Authors: