Gatekeepers are anyone who has a meaningful and important role in the lives of a young person. They may include grandparents and other relatives, neighbors, teachers or other school personnel, youth pastors, coaches, mentors, etc. Gatekeepers generally have pretty good knowledge of and first-hand experience with the young people in their lives, either from regular in-person contact or other forms of interaction with them on a routine basis such that they would recognize if something might be wrong or have changed for that young person.
If you are concerned about someone, ask yourself the following questions. Have they shown or shared any of the following:
1. Talk about wanting to die, be dead, or about suicide, or are they cutting or burning themselves?
2. Feeling like things may never get better, seeming like they are in terrible emotional pain (like something is wrong deep inside but they can't make it go away), or they are struggling to deal with a big loss in their life?
3. Or is your gut telling you to be worried because they have withdrawn from everyone and everything, have become more anxious or on edge, seem unsually angry, or just don't seem normal to you?
If you notice any of these warning signs in anyone, you can help!
1. Ask if they are ok or if they are having thoughts of suicide
2. Express your concern about what you are observing in their behavior
3. Listen attentively and non-judgementally
4. Reflect on what they share and let them know they have been heard
5. Tell them they are not alone
6. Let them know there are treatments available that can help
7. Guide them to professional help
How to Respond
Remember, if anyone is harming themselves now or has just harmed themselves, call 911 or take them to an emergency room immediately.
If you think that your child or another youth may need help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Your call is free and confidential. Trained crisis workers in your area can assist you and the youth in deciding what they need right now.