University Counseling Center

Western Connect: A Suicide Prevention Training for Gatekeepers


Western Connect provides gatekeepers with state-of-the-art training which addresses more than just statistics and facts about suicide. Through the use of experiential exercises and frank discussion about gatekeepers' own fears, Western Connect prepares gatekeepers for the anxiety-provoking situation of interacting with a suicidal student and allows gatekeepers to overcome the obstacles that often leave a student in crisis feeling misunderstood, judged, invalidated, and dismissed. Through connection, Western Connect gatekeepers can assuage the feelings of isolation of a suicidal/student in crisis and allow the student to more fully benefit from referral and connection to professional resources.

Gatekeeper Training

Western Connect is a 2.5 hour, interactive training program designed for use with a wide variety of campus personnel. A Western Connect gatekeeper training session includes:

  • Review of college student suicide statistics and facts
  • Discussion of suicide myths and warning signs
  • Instruction on how to ask students if they are thinking about suicide and how to refer students in crisis to mental health professionals
  • Review of effective communication and relationship-building skills
  • Discussion of typical emotional reactions experienced both by students in crisis and responding gatekeepers
  • Participation in four experiential exercises
  • Participation in a guided group role play

To register your department or group, please complete the Western Connect Registration Form.

Western Connect 2.0

This training is a one hour, refresher course for those individuals who have already completed a previous Western Connect Suicide Gatekeeper Training Program. We will review Western Connect and focus on what to do after a crisis occurs.

Individuals must have completed the Western Connect Program in order to participate in this workshop.


Following the presentation, the learner will:

  • Identify relevant Mental Health Statistics about suicide
  • Identify signs of mental illness that might indicate suicidality
  • Describe how to follow-up with a student after crisis when appropriate
  • Identify referral resources
  • Describe methods of Gatekeeper self-care following the crisis

Research Findings

Research has demonstrated that approximately eighty percent of college students who died by suicide were not previously known to college mental health service providers. The goal of gatekeeper training is to develop a network of individuals within the community to assist in identifying and supporting students in crisis and referring them to the appropriate mental health resources. Increasing the utilization and effectiveness of gatekeeper training is one of the priorities included in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and the JED Foundation suggests that gatekeeper training is an important element for a comprehensive campus suicide prevention program. Using a pre-training/post-training design, research assessments conducted at Syracuse University have demonstrated a significant increase in gatekeepers' knowledge, skills, and comfort in responding to students in crisis as a result of participating in a gatekeeper training.

For additional information on the Syracuse University Campus Connect program, please follow the link: Campus Connect: Suicide Prevention Training for Gatekeepers.

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Contact Info

Tiffany Bainter, Ph.D.

Telephone: (309) 298-1593

Western Connect Registration Form

Segments of information have been reproduced with permission from Syracuse University