Examining the effectiveness of gatekeeper training in suicide prevention




Bell, Karen

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Mental health problems are a growing concern for a variety of stakeholders on college campuses as untreated mental health concerns contribute to a variety of issues that can negatively impact the campus community. Suicide on college campuses is also a national concern that has drawn attention from a variety of outlets, including the media and federal government. National statistics indicate that suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old and the second leading cause of death among college and university students. Identification of suicidal individuals through gatekeeper training has been shown to be a promising approach to suicide prevention, particularly on college campuses. The purpose of this study was to examine the selfefficacy of those who participated in a suicide prevention gatekeeper training program at a college campus. This study involved a secondary analysis of gatekeeper trainings. The participants for this study were a convenience sample of undergraduate students (aged 18 and older), faculty, and staff who participated in a certified, 90-minute gatekeeper training known as Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR). The final sample consisted of 413 participants who completed matched pre- and post-training surveys as well as a threemonth follow-up survey. Two repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance analyses (MANOVA) were used to measure any change from pre-, post- and three-month follow-up surveys as well as the perceived self-efficacy and likelihood to intervene scales. Qualitative data analysis was used to examine the written responses to the open-ended questions from the three-month follow-up instrument. Results from this mix-method study revealed that overall, the QPR training increased participants’ self-efficacy in helping a suicidal person; and three months after the training session, roughly one-third of the participants reported applying what they learned about suicide prevention. In the threemonth follow-up instrument, 391 (94.67%) participants responded that they could identify suicidal warning signs. Additionally, 389 (94.19%) participants were able to report various methods for intervening with a suicidal person. Results from the study exposed the decline in gatekeeper skills and self-efficacy of participants from postintervention to three-month follow-up. The study contributes to the body of knowledge in the area of suicide prevention because it provides relevant information about the effectiveness of gatekeeper training in increasing individuals’ self-efficacy for intervening with suicidal individuals. This study also addresses the unique position of health educators to lead and expand efforts in suicide prevention by using their unique skill set as defined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.



Health and environmental sciences, Education, Gatekeeper training, Higher education, Self-efficacy, Suicide prevention