Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training

What is Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training?

Just as CPR training helps a person with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, suicide prevention gatekeeper training helps a person assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help is accessed. The McDowell Institute provides access to three specific, evidence-based suicide prevention training programs on campus and in school systems.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)

YMHFA is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it does build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. Mental Health First Aiders learn a single 5-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help and other supports. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families, and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

Question – Persuade – Refer (QPR)

QPR is a 2 hour educational program designed to teach lay and professional "gatekeepers" the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond. The process follows three steps: (1) Question the individual's desire or intent regarding suicide, (2) Persuade the person to seek and accept help, and (3) Refer the person to appropriate resources. QPR training results in increased knowledge about suicide, gatekeeper self-efficacy, knowledge of suicide prevention resources, gatekeeper skills, and diffusion of gatekeeper training information. The specific objectives of QPR training include: 1) increasing the ability to recognize someone at risk for suicide, 2) building skills to effectively intervene with those at risk; and 3) developing skills to refer someone at risk to an appropriate resource.

Kognito Virtual Modules

Kognito is a virtual professional development platform that has developed numerous mental health awareness modules that accomplish two main goals: 1) increase fluency in basic understanding of mental health issues for educators and 2) skill building in association with having conversations with students of concern. These goals are addressed by using simulated conversations with virtual humans (avatars). There are numerous modules available via Kognito ranging from elementary age up through high school. Each module takes a little under one hour to complete.

How do I get more information about gatekeeper trainings available through the McDowell Institute?

For additional information about these evidence-based programs offered through the McDowell Institute, contact Danielle Empson (Director of School-based Behavioral Health) via e-mail ( ).