Suicide prevention in Aboriginal communities: Application of community gatekeeper training
OBJECTIVE: Concern over the high rate of suicide among Aboriginal people on the south coast of NSW led to the development of a project aimed at preventing youth suicide in the Aboriginal communities of the Shoalhaven. This paper describes the development, implementation and evaluation of the project. METHOD: Following extensive consultation with the Aboriginal community, a range of culturally appropriate interventions were developed. The main focus was a series of community gatekeeper training workshops, which aimed to increase the potential of members of the Aboriginal community to identify and support people at risk of suicide and to facilitate their access to helping services. RESULTS: Evaluation of the workshops demonstrated an increase in participants' knowledge about suicide, greater confidence in identification of people who are suicidal, and high levels of intentions to provide help. Attitudes, subjective norms and barriers predicted intentions to help. CONCLUSIONS: The project indicated community members could be successfully trained in the recognition of individuals at risk of suicidal behaviour. Gatekeepers' attitudes and perceived barriers to helping predicted intentions to help those in need. There is a need for longer-term follow-up to assess the extent to which new knowledge and skills are used in practice. IMPLICATIONS: Suicide awareness and skills training have been demonstrated to be an effective early intervention strategy. Gatekeeper training empowers Aboriginal communities and is generally accepted. There is demand for such programs outside the Shoalhaven. The project has a methodological framework that can be easily adapted by other communities.