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Suicide among rural youth: What can we as a society do?

According to the Suicide
Prevention Resource Center,
small rural communities may be
better prepared to launch prevention
efforts because their social and economic
infrastructures are well integrated and community


members are linked to one another in ways that may be less common in urban areas. However, these same strengths can turn into barriers when small communities lack the resources, access to care, and privacy or anonymity that larger communities may offer.

Here are some of their suggestions of professional associations to fund, support, and/or deliver ongoing training in both screening and referral for adults likely to interact with rural youth. They call this “gatekeeper training” and say that these would include rural youth themselves and adults who are most likely to interact with them, including:

Primary care providers (especially those who conduct sports physicals)

Teachers and school personnel at junior highs, high schools and community colleges

First responders

Law enforcement personnel

Juvenile justice/detention personnel

Judges and court staff

Faith community leaders

Military personnel

Child welfare/foster care personnel

In every community or neighborhood, some adults enjoy particular rapport with youth and can be identified by asking youth themselves. This group of adults, no matter what their professional affiliation or background, also would be an ideal priority audience for gatekeeper training in rural areas.

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