Local students, teachers and residents could learn how to save lives this afternoon, at a suicide awareness and prevention course hosted by Devereux.

Instructors from Devereux – a nonprofit organization that provides services to children and adults with psychological, behavioral, neurological and developmental problems – will teach the course from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Devereux center in Goleta. To attend the course in suicide awareness, RSVP by phone at (805) 968-2525 ext. 145.

Janis Johnson, Devereux manager of external affairs, said the class aims to expose people to the threats of suicide and how to prevent potential incidents before they happen.

“The idea is to provide training and give skills to people who work with those more traditionally subject to suicidal thoughts, such as teens, children and students,” Johnson said.

Certified suicide prevention instructor Shannon Miles, who is in charge of the course, said the class will teach people how to determine whether or not someone might consider committing suicide. The program breaks down suicide warning signs into one basic phrase, which is repeatedly emphasized.

“The course focuses on the basics of suicide prevention,” Miles said. “‘QPR,’ which stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, is the key to our training. It’s much like CPR.”

People who attend the course will receive continuing education units, which are used by employers to ensure that counselors on their staff are equipped with up-to-date knowledge on suicide prevention. The event is not aimed at anyone in particular, Miles said, and could be helpful to a wide variety of people.

Miles, who has been a therapist for 13 years, said the suicide awareness and prevention class is designed to minimize the number of people who commits suicide in the UCSB community. Suicide affects thousands of people across America each year, she said.

“Three-hundred thousand deaths per year are the result of suicide,” Miles said. “That’s one death every 17 minutes, and for every death there are 25 [suicide] attempts.”

Counseling and Career Services (C&CS) offers several other options for people interested in suicide awareness and prevention. C&CS Director of Counseling Jeanne Stanford said the UCSB facility has trained stress peers available to answer questions about emotional problems and share literature on depression and suicide.

“We do offer psychological help for anyone who feels the need or for people concerned about their roommates,” Stanford said.