Gatekeeper training at CUH


Darren Iwamoto (left) and Dale Fryxell (right) in front of a informative suicide poster “Every 2 days, someone in Hawaii dies from suicide.”

Cramming for last-minute projects, stressing over finals and maintaining a job are on a college student’s mind toward the end of the semester. The pressure and increased anxiety can cause students to relieve stress in the worst ways. Smoking weed, drinking alcohol and even popping pills cross students’ minds to reach relaxation, but that isn’t the right way to handle any situation.

Chaminade University is hoping to create awareness of ways to cope in these situations.

The school was awarded a grant of $301,044, in August by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the E Ho’opili No Na Haumana project, which focuses on preventing suicide and building positive mental health for students attending Chaminade.

This three-year project will run from August 2012-July 2015 and will be directed by Dale Fryxell, CUH psychology professor and clinical director for CUH counseling program, and accompanied by an advisory board: Project Coordinator Kimberly Moon, MSCP Internship Director and Evaluation Coordinator Darren Iwamoto and MSCP Internship Director and Implementation Coordinator Dorothy Bach.

Suicide is the second-highest cause of death for college students and Hawaii is fifth in the nation, Iwamoto said, but he believes that Hawaii should be at a higher rank. Hawaii is lucky that it has quite a few suicide prevention and positive mental health programs. The University of Hawaii at Manoa, UH medical school, UH’s psychiatry department and UH-Hilo also participate with the program.

“Historically, this is the time of year you see anxiety really increase because finals is right around the corner,” Iwamoto said. “Typically as an instructor, we usually see changes and students are usually a little bit more anxious in things, and this is when the training will come in to effect, during the beginning and end of the semester.”

This QPR gatekeeper training, which is led by Moon, Fryxell, Iwamoto and Bach, is a suicide prevention program that will include everyone on the CUH campus to participate. QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide.

A gatekeeper is someone who can recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. Gatekeepers can be parents, family, friends, teachers and ministers.

“Parents may be the first ones who notice that their child’s having trouble and want to get them some help,” Fryxell said.

The advisory board wants to get parents more involved with the training because home might be where it all starts.

“It’s a little bit tougher for the students who live in the dorm, where they don’t have their family support as if you’re living at home or students that are living independently,” Iwamoto said. “There are students living at home too, who have family issues going on and that could be stressful too.”

With the QPR gatekeeper training, parents, teachers, resident advisors, faculty and staff will be able to notice changes in student behavior and knows what to do next in that kind of situation. Trainees will know how to identify the situation, how to talk to them and how to go about it.

“There’s always a stigma about getting counseling or treatment, because people see it as you weak, you can’t solve it yourself, but that’s what were trying to fight against,” Fryxell said. “Its alright to get help, a lot of people want help.”