Measuring Gatekeeper Instructor Comfort to Inform Suicide Prevention Train-The-Trainer Recruitment & Training in Agricultural Communities



Department Name When Scholarship Produced


Document Type


Publication Date



Farmers experience psychological distress and suicide at consistently higher rates than workers in other industries. A gatekeeper is an individual who has been trained to recognize warning symptoms of possible suicidal ideations in others. Gatekeeper programs are recognized by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as a best practice for suicide prevention. While gatekeeper programs offer promise to addressing the increasing worldwide suicide rate, how to develop these networks in communities with largely ingrained stigma and taboo related to mental health and suicide remains unanswered. Three of this study’s researchers were part of the development and pilot of an agricultural community gatekeeper program and questioned how gatekeeper instructor psychological comfort could be conceptualized and operationalized for the purpose of informing gatekeeper instructor recruitment and training. After a thorough review of the literature, the researchers constructed a conceptual developmental model of gatekeeper instructor comfort and created a Gatekeeper Instructor Comfort Measure instrument which was then piloted with Kentucky K-12 and university agricultural educators. The researchers of this study employed the Rasch model to determine whether the developmental model of gatekeeper instructor comfort held together empirically. Infit and outfit mean squares (0.73 to 1.33) indicate that the items measure one construct, or are unidimensional, while person reliability and separation statistics indicate that the Gatekeeper Instructor Comfort Measure is composed of enough items to differentiate respondents into almost four strata of gatekeeper comfort. The Gatekeeper Instructor Comfort Measure’s fit to the Rasch model indicates that the instrument meets the requirements of invariant measurement and should serve as a useful measure for other researchers. The instrument’s item difficulty hierarchy also serves as a guide for those training gatekeepers on how to target different gatekeeper outcomes sequentially or developmentally. Researchers recommend restructuring item responses to enable greater discrimination between categories and then piloting the instrument again with a more diverse sample. The revised measure could be used pre- and post-gatekeeper instructor training to determine the impact of training on gatekeeper comfort.

Journal Title

Journal of Agromedicine