Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-24-year-olds and the target of school-based prevention efforts. Gatekeeper training, a broadly disseminated prevention strategy, has been found to enhance participant knowledge and attitudes about intervening with distressed youth. Although the goal of training is the development of gatekeeper skills to intervene with at-risk youth, the impact on skills and use of training is less known. Brief gatekeeper training programs are largely educational and do not employ active learning strategies such as behavioral rehearsal through role play practice to assist skill development. In this study, we compare gatekeeper training as usual with training plus brief behavioral rehearsal (i.e., role play practice) on a variety of learning outcomes after training and at follow-up for 91 school staff and 56 parents in a school community. We found few differences between school staff and parent participants. Both training conditions resulted in enhanced knowledge and attitudes, and almost all participants spread gatekeeper training information to others in their network. Rigorous standardized patient and observational methods showed behavioral rehearsal with role play practice resulted in higher total gatekeeper skill scores immediately after training and at follow-up. Both conditions, however, showed decrements at follow-up. Strategies to strengthen and maintain gatekeeper skills over time are discussed.
Cross, Wendi F.; Seaburn, David; Gibbs, Danette; Schmeelk-Cone, Karen; White, Ann Marie; and Caine, Eric D., "Does Practice Make Perfect? A Randomized Control Trial of Behavioral Rehearsal on Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Skills" (2011). Psychology Faculty Publications. 1.