DOI link for Training Gatekeepers
Training Gatekeepers book
We begin with the case of a female student, Jeanette, a junior in high school. One quiet morning, another student brought a printout of Jeanette’s social media page on Facebook to her homeroom teacher, Ms. Snow. There were multiple immediate concerns, one being that Jeanette was a member of a group called “I don’t care if I die.” Another being that, on her profi le, she admitted to being a cutter and to being suicidal at times. Jeanette’s social media profi le page included statements referring to her scars as well as the following comments:
“death>this pain” “I want to die. I’ll just do it.” “idk [I don’t know] what to do anymore” “death>life” “I’d rather just end it than feel like this” “I can’t live like this anymore”
Ms. Snow was immediately concerned because of the content of the posts, but also because a well-known recent graduate had died by suicide the month before. What Ms. Snow did not know was that Jeanette was currently taking 10 mg of citalopram (Celexa) once a day for depression, and she had comorbid school phobia for which she was not on medication. She had a history of self-injurious behaviors, particularly cutting herself, carving words in her skin, and scratching her skin until it bled. Before the teacher had time to act, the fi re alarm went off for a prescheduled drill. As the students exited to the nearby soccer fi eld, Ms. Snow kept Jeanette by her side, ensuring she was not out of sight for even a moment. After the drill was over and everyone was permitted back inside, Ms. Snow found a vice principal and discreetly handed him the printout. The vice principal quickly reviewed the printout and agreed that the statements made by Jeanette on her Facebook page should be taken seriously and addressed by the school mental health professional
(SMHP). Thankfully, the students, staff, and faculty at this school had all received training on the importance of acting as gatekeepers and were all provided with wallet cards (as found in your eResources) listing steps on how to respond if concerned a student might be suicidal.