Suicide is the second leading cause of death-starting with children at age 10 all the way up to adults age 33. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, aids, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. These were some of Growth Works’ CEO Nick Griswold’s opening remarks for the Suicide Prevention QPR Training, hosted by Growth Works.

Growth Works is a member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition that was started through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) initiated by St. Mary Mercy, trinity Health Livonia in 2015. This resulted in a suicide prevention forum developed through a collaboration of stakeholders in the seven participating school districts and community organizations. Through this collaborative effort, it was determined that for the work of this committee to truly gain traction, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator would be needed to allow them to meet their mission and achieve the goal of zero completed youth suicide within the districts served. In 2021 the Coalition was awarded a grant from the Flynn Foundation to support the work of the Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Syndee Malek was hired in 2022 to spearhead this important work.

The coalition has been hard at work assessing the existing programs and services in our local school districts as well as seeking out new resources and tools. This included QPR training, Question Persuade Refer, for all members of the educational staff of the seven Western Wayne School Districts involved in the coalition. The purpose of this training is to help save lives and ensure that all members of the educational team can recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone for help.

The first event in brining QPR training to the educational staff took place on June 27th at the Inn at St. John’s. Participants spent the morning with two keynote speakers, Kevin Fischer Executive Director of NAMI Michigan and Growth Works’ Board Member and Gail Neely Kolbeck from Every Monday Matters. The event hosted more than 250 attendees and 171 individuals were trained as QPR Gatekeepers. QPR Gatekeeper training is good for three years; trainers need to recertify after three years as well. We captured a lot of great feedback and comments from participants including, “I feel more confident in talking with people about suicide and asking directly if they are having suicidal thoughts.” “Relationships are the most important way to help build trust for students to feel comfortable to open up to you as an adult.” ”I received useful resources to someone to and I feel more comfortable asking the question about suicide.” These are just a few out the hundreds of comments we received that show an overwhelming need for more education and training like this one.

This incredible event was made possible by the generous support of our community sponsors including Healthy Livonia, Community Financial, Gordon Advisors, Schoolcraft College, Michigan Educational Credit Union, South Redford School District and the Kiwanis Club of Plymouth. We would also like to thank all of the participants who joined us for this event, who will be taking life saving resources back to their organizations, and they include Clarenceville, Livonia, Redford Union, Taylor, Wayne RESA, Northville, Plymouth-Canton, South Redford, Wayne Westland, Growth Works and other community guests.

We will be hosting another Suicide Prevention QPR Training Day, November 8th. If you are interested in more information or sponsoring this event, contact Laura Reiners at Thank you for your support in helping us reach our goal of zero completed youth suicides within the seven Western Wayne School Districts.