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Frequently Asked Questions About Suicide Prevention Training

What is gatekeeper training?
It is suicide prevention and intervention for a general community audience such as parents, volunteers, businesses, or civic group.

How is gatekeeper training different from training for specific disciplines or professions?
Gatekeeper training is the foundation of the Connect curriculum.  From that we add protocols designed for the roles and responsibilities of people working in specific disciplines, such as education, law enforcement, or social services.

How do I select a gatekeeper training program?
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has produced a free educational course on selecting an appropriate gatekeeper training program. This course can be accessed here.

What is the difference between prevention/intervention and postvention?
Prevention and intervention involve learning how to recognize a potentially suicidal person, connect with that person, and connect that person to help. Postvention focuses on promoting healing and reducing risk after a suicide. It is a planning tool for a community or organization to develop protocols in the event of a suicide or any sudden death and to develop an integrated response system.  

Can prevention/intervention and postvention  both be taught in a day?
The ability to adequately process the different approaches to the issue of suicide necessitates two days of training and can be provided in two consecutive days.

Who should attend a postvention training?
Professionals who are involved in responding to a suicide death, such as school counselors, faith leaders, law enforcement, and mental health/substance abuse providers.  We do not provide postvention to gatekeepers.

Why is postvention considered to be prevention?
Because those who have been exposed to a death by suicide have a higher risk of suicide, it is important to respond to a suicide with safe messaging, appropriate memorials, and good understanding of the complexity of suicide-related grief to reduce further risk.  The postvention training also reviews prevention skills and methods.

What makes Connect different from other training programs?

  • We provide an ecological approach to the issue of suicide (see below) that goes beyond the ”at risk” individual.
  • Connect is based on a public health model that looks at the many realms in which suicide prevention and postvention activities can take place - the greater society, the local community, the individual, and family/friends associated with the individual.
  • Connect provides discipline specific protocols as well as cross system training. 
  • Connect helps participants understand how systems work and how to collaborate to effect change within systems to get a person help.
  • Training is customized to the specific needs of the audience. Prior to training, our staff consults with you to learn about your training needs and cultural considerations.
  • Our prevention/intervention curriculum includes the gray area of early intervention--what to do when a person resists help or is not in a crisis, but may be potentially suicidal.  We look at follow-up after a suicide attempt or hospitalization.  Making a referral is often not enough; it’s an on-going process that includes developing a transition plan for the individual and longer term planning for the community and systems involved.

What is the ecological model and why is it important?
It considers individuals in the context of their lives – family, friends, community, and society.  Each level influences and is influenced by the other levels.   In suicide prevention, the health of an individual is affected by the relative health of these different levels, so focusing on protective factors is key.  For suicide postvention (promoting healing and reducing risk after a suicide), it is important to use safe messaging and understand the complexity of suicide-related grief with family, friends, community and society.

Can the 6 hour training be shortened?
We understand that people’s schedules are full. However, when we have shortened the training, people report feeling rushed in regards to assimilating a full agenda and processing emotionally charged topics. Therefore, we would recommend against shortening the training.

 How do I know what kind of training a mixed audience should have?
Connect staff will work with you to understand the priority audience and design the training to meet your needs.

How does your training engage survivors of suicide loss?
Connect’s Postvention training includes a short talk by a survivor speaker or a video if that is not possible.  By speaking about personal loss, survivor speakers can promote healing and understanding which, in turn, supports and encourages suicide prevention efforts and can also improve the response to those newly bereaved by suicide.

How do you ensure the emotional safety of the participants in your training?
Individuals who have had a loss from suicide (survivors), particularly within the past year, may find suicide prevention training evokes discomfort and/or feelings of regret. It is recommended that survivors contact Connect staff before attending a training to determine their readiness and discuss alternative programs which may be more appropriate. Connect trainings also emphasize self care and the use of a resource person on site who can be available to participants who find that they are emotionally impacted during the training.

 Is Connect training based on evaluation?
Connect has included an evaluation component from the start of the program. This has included internal evaluation, as well as the inclusion of outside evaluators from the University of New Hampshire Center on Adolescence, and Antioch University New England. Connect trainings generally include a minimum of a Training Exit Survey (completed following the training) or the preferred format of pre- and post-test evaluations.

Are CEUs offered with Connect training? 
CEUs have been obtained from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for the Connect Mental Health/Substance Abuse Module in both Prevention and Postvention. CEUs for all other disciplines are pending.

What are the logistical considerations involved in hosting on a Connect training?
As a sponsor, you are responsible for the following:

  • Recruiting participants
  • Registration and communication with participants
  • Securing a classroom(s) and equipment (LCD projector, white board)

Connect staff are available to consult with you on any of the above.

 What are the advantages regarding the three day train-the-trainer?

  •  long-term sustainability
  •  building capacity of local trainers
  • cost-effectiveness

Train-the-trainer is most effective when there is a contact person to coordinate training opportunities.