By Sean Seid
The Pensacola State College Crisis Action Referral Effort for Students, better known by their acronym C.A.R.E.S., provides a wide variety of resources for students in a state of crisis, as well as education for people who may come into contact with them.
“A Gatekeeper is anyone who has the potential to come into contact with someone who may be suicidal,” said Rachel Burns, campus Crisis Referral Coordinator.
Burns headed the training session provided to faculty and staff on Tuesday, March 24 at the Pensacola campus.
Everyone who is trained becomes a Gatekeeper. The training is designed to help people become aware of the signs and symptoms of crisis, as well as empower them to help provide resources and potentially save lives.
Students thinking that they aren’t trained therapists shouldn’t worry. Students don’t have to get a degree to learn how to help.
“Most often, people in crisis just need someone who can listen and let them know they care,” Burns said.
The two-hour Gatekeeper training sessions are designed to help attendees feel confident in their ability to assist others.
Joseph, who attended the Gatekeeper training said, “I feel confident in what I learned today. I was very surprised by the statistics presented.”
The training reveals that crisis and suicide affect all types of people despite gender, age, or ethnicity.
Katie Lewis, a full-time Psychology Instructor, and Dr. Darlene Mosely, a professor in the social sciences department, were the trainers for the session.
Lewis says there are many myths that surround the topic of suicide but one of the most common is that “we shouldn’t talk about it because it will make people more likely to think about it.”
She says we need to be more comfortable talking about it so that people who need help won’t be afraid to ask, and the people who come into contact with those in a crisis will feel confident in their ability to help.
People considering suicide often feel like there is no hope and that they are out of options. Gatekeeper training reveals that there are, in fact,many options on and off-campus. If someone is not in immediate danger but needs help dealing with an emotional crisis, they can reach Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PSC provides a licensed therapist, Dawn Connor in Building 5 on the Pensacola Campus, who can provide ongoing counseling. Off-campus, the Lakeview Center and the Faith and Hope Counseling Center provide counseling services on a sliding fee scale for people with little to no income or insurance.
Depression and suicide affects thousands of people every year, and many have lost friends and family because of it. While crisis and suicide are often thought of as a dark topic, everyone can help the healing process by bringing it to the light.
For those interested in being a Gatekeeper, upcoming sessions are Friday April 10th for faculty/staff, and another session will be open to students on May 20th Wednesday. If neither of these dates is convenient, contact Burns to see what other options are available.
If someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, contact campus police at 850-484-2500.