Gatekeeper training programs are programs that seek to develop individuals’ knowledge, attitudes and skills to identify those at risk, determine levels of risk, and make referrals when necessary (SPRC)
Gatekeeper Training for School Staff
Gatekeeper training for staff is an important element of suicide prevention. This type of education enhances school staff’s knowledge of suicide and their ability to recognize students at risk. It is important to note that while gatekeeper training enables staff to “sound the alarm” to get further support for students, this type of training and education is not sufficient for staff to provide mental health services to students. Once staff receive this type of training, they should be more equipped to identify students at risk and respond appropriately while linking the student to the appropriate resources and interventions.
Best Practices in Gatekeeper Trainings
Research shows that teachers and school staff believe that suicide prevention is an important part of their role, but they lack the tools or confidence necessary to fill the role.
Effective training and clear expectations can fill this gap and empower teachers and other staff to actively prevent suicide in their schools.
All staff must receive gatekeeper training and be aware of all relevant protocols prior to students receiving prevention education or screening.
Gatekeeper training should last approximately 2 hours at least every 2-3 years and include the following elements:
- Recognizing students at risk
- Intervention & communication
- Determining/Assessing level of risk
- Referral practices
- Should be universal and evidence-based
- Clarify role: expected to act as gatekeeper,
not meant to act as mental health provider
tasked to recognize risk and “sound the
Maine’s youth suicide prevention program
Colorado’s safe communities-Safe schools’ program
Washington’s youth suicide prevention program
ASAP, Suicide prevention Unit-Los Angeles unified school district.
Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Model Policy, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Choosing a Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training: A Comparison Table, Suicide Prevention Resource Center
What is Complex Trauma? A Resource Guide for Youth and Those Who Care About Them, National Child Traumatic Stress Network
ACT on FACTS free online training, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Conversations Matter, Everymind online resources for discussing suicide
Safety Planning Intervention for Suicidal Individuals, free online training from New York State Center of Mental Health
“Saving Holden Caulfield: Long and Short-term Strategies for Preventing Youth Suicide” recorded webinar from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Resource Center