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Campus Connect

Campus Connect: A Suicide Prevention Training for Gatekeepers

Campus Connect provides gatekeepers with state-of-the-art training which addresses more than just statistics and facts about suicide. Through the use of experiential exercises and
frank discussion about gatekeepers’ own fears, Campus Connect prepares gatekeepers for
the anxiety-provoking situation of interacting with a suicidal student and allows gatekeepers
to overcome the obstacles that often leave a student in crisis feeling misunderstood, judged,
invalidated, and dismissed. Through connection, Campus Connect gatekeepers can assuage
the feelings of isolation of a suicidal student and allow the student to more fully benefit from
referral and connection to professional resources.

Designed specifically for a college/university community, Campus Connect is an experiential
training focused on enhancing gatekeepers’ knowledge, awareness, and skills concerning
college student suicide. Beyond increasing gatekeepers’ knowledge about students in a
suicidal crisis, emphasis is placed on developing empathic listening skills, communication
skills, and the ability to compassionately and directly ask students about their suicidal
thoughts. Moreover, through increased awareness of their own emotional reactions,
Campus Connect gatekeepers are able to more effectively respond to students’ emotional
needs and increase the likelihood of a meaningful connection with appropriate professional
resources.  In addition to enhanced ability in responding to students in a suicidal crisis, the
skills learned in Campus Connect training will enable gatekeepers to respond caringly and
effectively to students experiencing a wide range of emotional crises. Campus Connect employs a multicultural framework and seeks to enhance gatekeepers’ understanding of and ability to respond to students from numerous intersecting identities. 

Gatekeeper Training
Campus Connect is a three-hour, interactive training program designed for use with a wide
variety of campus personnel (e.g., faculty, residence life staff, academic advisors, health
center staff, etc.). A Campus Connect gatekeeper training session includes:

  • Review of college student suicide statistics and facts
  • Discussion of suicide warning signs
  • Instruction on how to ask students if they are thinking about suicide and how to refer students to mental health professionals
  • Discussion of the impact of marginalization on mental health
  • Review of effective communication and relationship-building skills
  • Discussion of typical emotional reactions experienced both by students in crisis and responding gatekeepers
  • Participation in four experiential exercises
  • Participation in a guided group role play

Train the Trainer
A comprehensive six-hour train-the-trainer session is available to colleges and universities interested in implementing Campus Connect on their own campuses. As a result of participating in a train-the-trainer session, your campus will be able to implement a self-sustained gatekeeper training program—an essential component of an effective campus suicide prevention program. Campus Connect train-the-trainer sessions include:

  • Review of recent trends in college mental including relevant court cases and state laws
  • Discussion of the need for a public health approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention
  • Review of the philosophical basis of Campus Connect
  • Participation in the experiential exercises and discussion of how to most effectively lead each of the exercises
  • Specific instruction for potential trainers on how to conduct their own trainings
  • Discussion of specific campus needs and strategies for overcoming implementation challenges
  • A training manual for each trainee which contains a detailed description of the training, including a full script with training tips and strategies

Highlights and Developments

  • Campus Connect has been included on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (SPRC/AFSP) Best Practices Registry.
  • Campus Connect has been implemented and evaluated at Syracuse University for the past ten years. Participation in Campus Connect training has been shown to result in a significant increase in crisis response skills as measured by the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory (SIRI-II)
  • 175 campuses have participated in a Campus Connect Train-the-Trainer Session.
  • Partial funding for the implementation and assessment of Campus Connect was provided by a Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant.

Articles that review Campus Connect

Pasco, S., Wallack, C., Sartin, R. M., & Dayton, R. (2012). The impact of experiential exercises on communication and relational skills in a suicide prevention gatekeeper-training program for college resident advisors. Journal Of American College Health, 60(2), 134-140.


Wallack, C., Servaty-Seib, H. L. and Taub, D. J. (2013), Gatekeeper Training in Campus Suicide Prevention . New Directions for Student Services, 2013: 27–41.


The fee for a train-the-trainer session is $5,000. This fee includes: a six-hour train-the-trainer session for up to 25 participants, a training manual for each participant, consultation prior to and following the training session, and travel costs for the trainer.


Contact Information
Susan Pasco, Ph.D.,LCSW-R or Mitch Sartin, Ph.D.
Syracuse University Counseling Center