Question. Persuade. Refer.

Those are the action items central to a free training on suicide awareness and prevention to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 at Aspen Builders Inc. Activity Center, 410 W. D St.

All are welcome; it's designed to educate and empower all types of people — regardless of their background — to help others who may be suicidal, Stallion Springs Police Chief Gary Crowell wrote by email. His department hosted a training in July.

"The signs of crisis are all around us," Crowell said. "Statistically, suicides occur at a higher rate in rural areas. Tehachapi, Kern Valley and other rural areas have been hit hard by suicides historically. Kern County's suicide rate is above the California and national average for both adults and juveniles."

The QPR Training includes: national and California statistics; common suicide myths and facts; warning signs of suicide; tips for asking the suicide question; methods for persuading suicidal individuals to get help; and how to refer at-risk people for help.

"Suicide doesn't discriminate and we all need to be suicide aware," wrote Ellen Eggert, program support supervisor of the Suicide Survivor Outreach Team at Kern County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services.

It's become a communitywide effort to address the crisis of suicide locally — and make no mistake, this is a communitywide effort, said Harold Pierce, communication manger at Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley

"Together, we are at the start of finding ways we can wrap our arms around this issue, and are actively seeking how our community can address behavioral health issues, ease suffering and provide support," Pierce said.

He noted that AHTV offers behavioral health services through its primary care clinics in Tehachapi, California City and Mojave. AHTV staffs a full-time licensed clinical social worker and offers telepsychiatry.

"We are aware, however, that suicide is a communitywide issue and that we need as many people as possible to not only be aware of the signs that a loved one may be suicidal, but also know how to respond," Pierce said. "That’s why we are partnering with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services to offer a free community training that will provide attendees the tools they need to identify the signs that somebody may be suicidal, persuade them to end their plans and refer them to the professional help they need."