Advances in Mental Health, Vol 9, No 1 (2010)

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Gatekeeper Training for Caregivers and Professionals: A Variation on Suicide Prevention

Jayme Rae Swanke


Means restriction and gatekeeper training are the most effective means of preventing suicide. Gatekeeper training is not a new strategy for suicide prevention but the inclusion of caregivers of persons with mental illness, such as family and friends is a more recent phenomenon.

The present gatekeeper training represents a variation of the strategy that not only includes caregivers and professionals, but had as an objective to improve communication between them. Training participants (n=187) received information regarding national and local suicide statistics, self-harming behaviors, symptoms of suicide, and protective factors. In addition, a combined professional and caregiver panel was assembled to deliver information regarding suicide risk and protection, as well as to share personal experiences. The second portion of the training consisted of exercises to solicit ideas and facilitate communication between the professionals and caregivers.

Training evaluation shows that all training participants regardless of their status, gained awareness, knowledge and skills needed to intervene with a person who may be suicidal. This training also provided an opportunity for professional and caregiver participants to learn more effective ways to communicate with one another. Seventy-five percent of caregiver participants (n = 42), and 83% of professional participants (n = 59) reported that they had gained knowledge regarding how to communicate more effectively with the other group.

Advances in Mental Health

ISSN 1837-4905
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