I-5 Gatekeeper programs


  • Establish a network of adults and youth in every community who can recognize and respond to youth exhibiting signs of suicide risk and can assist them in getting professional help.


  • Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) should be provided to adults who have regular contact with youth and their families. This includes but is not limited to: health care professionals, mental health providers, substance abuse counselors, law enforcement officers, juvenile corrections workers, protective service workers, family planning staff, school personnel (nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors, teachers) tribal leaders, clergy, peer helpers, crisis line workers, emergency room personnel, and others who have significant contact with youth between 10 and 24.

Rational and Efficacy

  • Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) for adults who work with youth builds their competence and confidence to:
  • recognize risk factors associated with youth suicide
  • Identify at risk youth
  • Communicate with youth at risk for suicide
  • Make referrals to connect at-risk youth with skill-building and/or crisis intervention services
  • Implement policies to guide interventions with at-risk youth (e.g., never leave a suicidal youth alone)
  • Facilitate a 30-to 45-minute awareness program on the topic of youth suicide
  • Serve on a school/community prevention team and/or crisis response team
  • Adults and youth can be trained to identify youth at risk, show they care and connect youth with services.
  • Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) for youth builds their competence and confidence to:
  • Recognize the risk factors associated with youth suicide
  • Increase positive communication with youth at risk for suicide
  • Tell an adult of their concerns about a peer
  • Connect a peer at risk with an adult capable of helping
  • Adults who are community gatekeepers interact with youth in a variety of school and community settings. Once trained, they’re in a position to recognize youth at high risk of suicide and to intervene with them.
  • Youth are more likely to talk with peers than with adults about suicidal feelings, ideation, plans, and behaviors. Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) for youth offers more in-depth training than general suicide awareness education and provides a cadre of youth with a high level of awareness and skill in intervening with and referring high-risk peers to professional help.
  • Results from Washington state Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) programs indicate that trained adults and youth are significantly more likely than the general public to: (1) believe they would act to prevent youth suicide, (2) demonstrate greater confidence in suicide assessment and intervention knowledge, and (3) report higher levels of comfort, competence, and confidence in helping at-risk youth. Youth who participated in a 2-day Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) were significantly more likely to know warning signs for suicide and more likely to respond with effective suicide prevention steps than non-participating peers. Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) programs in Colorado and New Jersey have shown similar results.

Impementation Considerations 

  • A public education campaign for parents
  • Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) is not generally designed for parents of youth identified as high-risk for suicide. Those parents should be contacted and referred to professional help.
  • Adult Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) should take place before youth training to ensure that the trained youth gatekeeper will have adult support and follow-up when reaching out for help for themselves or friends. Gatekeepers -especially youth gatekeepers- should receive ongoing supervision, debriefing, and training to help ensure that suicide intervention activities do not increase the risk of suicidal behavior by gatekeepers themselves.

Sample Implementation Activities

  • Identify community members who are already trained gatekeepers.
  • Assess the need for additional gatekeepers.
  • Utilize trained gatekeepers to provide youth suicide awareness education and serve on local prevention/crisis response teams.
  • Conduct a training to increase the number of gatekeepers
  • Provide support and ongoing training for current gatekeepers and for those seeking to become gatekeepers.