Office of Student Life

REACH Onward

I’m a Certified REACH© Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper! Now What?

CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a suicide prevention gatekeeper! Thank you for being a part of our mission and for being an advocate for those in need. With the knowledge you’ve gained from the REACH training, you are now part of a larger family, one committed to breaking down mental health stigma and saving lives!

Being a certified suicide prevention gatekeeper means you CAN:

  • Help to educate others on the widespread impact that suicide has on our society.
  • Dispel some of the myths surrounding suicide and mental illness.
  • Recognize some of the risk factors and warning signs for suicide.
  • Directly ask about suicide, using appropriate and precise language.
  • Respond with empathy to those struggling.
  • Effectively communicate hope.
  • Act as a bridge between people in distress and helpful resources.

We hope that you use this knowledge and your newly gained skills to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. While these conversations may be difficult to have, they are so incredibly important, and could one day help you save a life. Remember, suicide is preventable and treatment works!

Why should I display my REACH Pin for others to see?

Gatekeepers display their REACH Pin to:

  • Remember those we have lost to suicide.
  • Promote mental health.
  • Erase the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness.
  • Support individuals who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings.

While the REACH Pin may be small, it holds a mighty message. For people who see the pin and already know what the pin symbolizes, it will bring you moments of connection. For those who are curious about the pin and the meaning behind it, it will give you the opportunity to educate others and get them connected to the movement.

How Can I Break Down Mental Health Stigma?

  • Openly talk about mental health. When we discuss mental health freely and honestly, we are fighting against the idea that this topic is “taboo” and should be secretive.
  • Education is key. Many people hold incorrect beliefs about mental health. Take some time to correct your own misbeliefs and gently remind others to do the same. To learn more, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • Language matters. Be respectful and use first-person language when discussing individuals experiencing mental illnesses. Likewise, remember mental illnesses are not adjectives and should not be used to describe everyday emotions. To learn more about appropriate language, visit The JED Foundation.
  • Treat physical and mental health equally. Mental health is just as important and impactful as physical health. When people are not mentally well, we should encourage them to take it seriously and seek help, just as we do with physical ailments.
  • Be compassionate. People living with mental illnesses can be in an immense amount of pain. Be kind to people around you, it can have a lasting impact on those who may be in need of care and affection. To learn more, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  • Empower, don’t shame. When people feel judged for their mental health experiences, they are less likely to seek help. Rather than shame people with mental illnesses, take some time to talk with them, and encourage them to get the help that they need. To learn more, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • Discuss treatment. We openly and frequently talk about seeing primary care physicians, optometrists, and dentists… This should apply to seeing mental health professionals as well. There is no shame in prioritizing your well-being and seeking treatment.
  • Confront the media for being stigmatizing. If you see a media source adding to the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide, acknowledge it and challenge their views. Sometimes people do not know they are being stigmatizing until they are confronted with the facts.
  • Challenge your own self-stigma. When you begin to feel the need to hide your true feelings and struggles, you are experiencing self-stigma. Remember, experiencing mental health challenges are common and warrant care and treatment without judgment. Be kind and patient with yourself as you work through your challenges.

Sources used: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Risk Factors, Warning Signs, and How to Intervene

Looking to refresh some of your REACH skills? For a refresher on risk factors, warning signs, and how to intervene, visit our page on Understanding Suicide for self-driven learning.

Where Can I Get Additional Resources?

For more information on local and national mental health and crisis resources, or to learn more about suicide prevention efforts, please visit our page on Educational Resources.