Gatekeeper training can help save lives – a reminder

Published on June 08, 2018

News of suicides—including high-profile suicides such as those of fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain—can impact people differently. For some of us, this news can increase our feelings of vulnerability, create or elevate fear for our own selves, or prompt greater worry for loved ones who may be hurting.

If you feel that you’re in crisis, please get help immediately by calling 1-800-273-8255 or contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Crisis Chat team online. You’re not alone, and there are people who can help you.

If you would like to find a way to reach out and help at-risk colleagues or loved ones, we encourage you to take the free suicide prevention training offered to AVMA and Student AVMA members. Called gatekeeper training, this is a one-hour program that teaches people without professional mental health backgrounds to recognize signs that someone may be considering suicide, establish a dialogue, and guide them to seek professional help. It's not a substitute for professional assistance, but it can help save lives – and it's something that any veterinary professional can learn to do.

Veterinarians and our veterinary team members are compassionate, caring healers, and our hearts grow sad with news such as we heard this week. Even for those who don’t personally struggle with sadness or depression, it’s natural to worry about colleagues and loved ones. At the AVMA, our concern mirrors yours; the wellbeing of veterinary professionals everywhere is of critical importance to us.

The Wellbeing and Peer Assistance section of contains a wide range of tools and resources to help you care for yourself, create a supportive culture in your veterinary workplace, and get information to help loved ones. We encourage you to use it to help prioritize your own wellbeing, and to find resources to help others in your life.