GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Free suicide prevention training sessions will be available in Muskegon and Newaygo counties over the next three months.

The sessions teach attendees the “question, persuade, refer” method, also known as QPR. It’s a program Stephanie Kooistra, a Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial community health educator and certified trainer in suicide prevention, says is one of the most effective measures in preventing self-harm. The goal is to appropriately question why someone may be feeling that way, persuade them to seek help and ultimately find the way to help.

“We give our participants a list of local resources they can use if they need to, to contact an expert. But also, during that time, it’s a team approach,” Kooistra said, explaining the ‘refer’ part of QPR training.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255

She said someone with QPR training can help get the conversation started but many others can help support the person in crisis.

“Maybe that’s parents, siblings, friends, a pastor, administrator, other people that might surround that person and continue to look in on them and help you out keeping them safe,” Kooistra said.

The first session took place last week. Here are the locations and times of the remaining sessions:

These sessions are free. To register, call the Spectrum Health community help line at 231.924.3073 or email