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Teen Health and Safety

Learn How to Be a Gatekeeper to Help Prevent Teen Suicide

Rachel Papke

Director of Events & Communications, Jordan Porco Foundation

In suicide prevention, this is called being a gatekeeper — someone who is actively on the lookout for individuals showing the warning signs of suicide. This gatekeeper can identify an at-risk person and take immediate action to help that person or get that person to connect with a licensed healthcare professional.

Picking up on these signs is especially vital during this pandemic, which is leaving the majority of people to manage compounding stressors that are taking a toll on their wellbeing alone. Their mental health is affected.

This is supported by a new national survey that finds most Americans want suicide prevention to be a national priority. Yet, many people (69 percent) identified key barriers to talking about suicide, such as not knowing what to say (31 percent), feeling they don’t have enough knowledge (28 percent), or not feeling comfortable with the topic (19 percent).

Now is a critical and pivotal time to invite open conversations about mental health and suicide prevention. You can take individual action and empower others by helping to break down these barriers by taking time to educate yourself (and others). 

Parents and caregivers

You are your teen’s gatekeeper at so many levels. You’re constantly on the lookout in an ongoing effort to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. Learn the warning signs of suicide and create a comfortable, connected, non-judgmental space to have honest conversations about mental health and suicide.

Friends and peers

Teens are more likely to talk to their peers when a problem arises. Therefore, most traditional mental health outreach, in which clinicians or teachers give information to students, is not always the most appropriate method for reaching young adults. In many instances, young adults are more likely to listen to and retain information provided by their peers, so it’s imperative that the message of suicide prevention comes from peers (with support from professionals for safety).


Don’t forget to check-in on each other. Be aware of your classmates’ behaviors and emotions. If you have concerns, speak up and show your concern. It’s very important to know the warning signs and take action to help someone.

School staff

You are also on the front line and therefore should be gatekeepers, ready to identify the suicide warning signs, and take action to help.


That’s right, anyone can be a gatekeeper to prevent suicide. Please take action today to learn the warning signs of suicide. Be vigilant and identify and respond when a person needs help.

Suicide rates are at their highest in 30 years. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10 to 34. We need gatekeepers to help combat these statistics. As we add gatekeepers to our communities, we exponentially increase our opportunities to save more lives.

If you need support now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text HOME to 741-741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.

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