Safe Messaging Guidelines for Campuses

Information adapted from: Suicide Prevention Resource Center www.sprc.org 877-GET-SPRC (877-438-7772) Education Development Center, Inc. 55 Chapel Street, Newton, MA 02458-1060

The following information is provided to assist in preparing safe, effective public announcements regarding suicide and suicide prevention. The recommendations provided by the SPRC apply to the content of safe messaging, however the dissemination of the messages should take into account the audience and your respective community.

Do’s – helpful practices for public awareness

  • DO encourage help-seeking behavior. Make concrete recommendations to referral sources and offer steps that can be taken to seek out crisis service providers. One way to offer a concrete resource is to suggest the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]).
  • DO emphasis prevention. Emphasize that suicide is a preventable tragedy and steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of suicidal crisis within your community.
  • DO educate the community about warning signs, risk factors and protective factors about suicide. Share how people might be able to identify people experiencing a suicidal crisis. (IS PATH WARM). Be familiar with risk factors and protective factors and communicate those to the public.
  • DO highlight effective treatments for mental health and mental illness. 90% of suicides can partially be linked to mental health illnesses. Encourage stories of people who have sought out help. Discuss openly how the community strengthens social supports and helps those in crisis.

Don’ts – potentially problematic practices in public awareness campaigns

  • DON’T glorify or romanticize the stories and experiences of those who have died by suicide. People in vulnerable states (such as youth) may identify with the attention and sympathy attributed to the person who died by suicide. They should not be presented as role models. Caution need be exercised in minimizing the contagion effect of suicide.
  • DON’T normalize suicide by presenting it as common. It is important not to present suicide as a common or normal event that is depicted as acceptable. Instead, emphasize that an acceptable and normal action is to find constructive ways of dealing with suicidal ideation.
  • DON’T focus on personal details of people who had died by suicide. Those who are vulnerable may identify with a personal aspect of the deceased and consider suicide as an option for themselves.
  • DON’T discuss overly descriptive details of the method of suicide. Vulnerable individuals may be more likely to imitate the act if they are able to envision the methods previously used.

 

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