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Public Education and Awareness Campaigns for Suicide Prevention

Public education and awareness campaign efforts are commonly used for many public health issues, including suicide prevention. These programs are able to reach a wide audience and can raise awareness for subjects that are not frequently discussed or are largely unknown to the general public. Public awareness campaigns may take a variety of forms, using multiple types of media, including billboards, newspapers and magazines, radio and television, posters and ads in public spaces, and brochures in clinics, schools, or other appropriate venues.

Some campaigns are specific to suicide, while others include suicide prevention in a broader campaign about mental health or managing stress. Campaigns can target a broad audience or be specific to particular subpopulations, depending on the needs of the community. In any writing on suicide, including in public awareness campaigns or media coverage of suicide, care should be taken to ensure that the writing is clear, but does not sensationalize, and that suicide prevention experts are consulted on wording.

While more research is needed to understand the impact of public awareness campaigns on attitudes toward mental health and suicide in rural populations specifically, there is evidence that public awareness campaigns around suicide prevention programs increase help-seeking behavior.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Action Alliance Framework for Successful Messaging
A research-based resource to guide organizations when developing their public messaging about suicide and suicide prevention through awareness campaigns, newsletters, social media, public presentations, etc.
Organization(s): National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention