‘Gatekeepers’ to help with Lithuania’s suicide problem

Paulius Skruibis
DELFI / Valdas Kopūstas

Lithuania has come under much criticism for failing to draw up a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy. Dr. Paulius Skruibis highlights the case of Kupiškis municipality and its “Gatekeepers” initiative which has already produced notable results.

“Gatekeepers” are volunteers working in professions where they interact with many people during work. For example, they could be teachers, policemen, doctors or social workers. They are instructed how to recognise signs suggesting suicidal tendencies and what to do about it.

“When a person feels hopeless, no longer wishes to live, more often than not they won’t seek help because they do not feel that anyone can help them. They don’t go to psychotherapists or psychiatrists, or elsewhere as many may think. Perhaps, however, they will mention suicide or perhaps it will be clear they are depressed. Specifically those who encounter many people over the course of their work, like family doctors, teachers, police officers, are the ‘gatekeepers’ who are best positioned to notice the signs,” says Skruibis.

The second stage of the initiative is the provision of specialised aid to target groups, such as those who have attempted suicide or people identified by “gatekeepers”.


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