These examples are designed to bring the Framework for Successful Messaging to life and inspire you to think about the four elements of Strategy, Safety, Positive Narrative, and Guidelines when developing or choosing your own messages and materials.
Have an example that illustrates the Framework for Successful Messaging? Submit it for consideration by emailing us a description of what it is, how it follows the four Framework concepts, and where to find additional information.
What it is:
This is the official Facebook page for the Pyramid Lake Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Project: "Kwetso'ina Numu" (People of Life) that is focused on promoting engagement and bringing messages of future, hope, and life to the community.Tags: social media, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Facebook, YouTube, Youth, increase resiliency and coping, promote connectedness, GLS grantee
This Facebook page is aligned with the goals of the overall project, which promotes culturally congruent actions and activities that reinforce reasons for living and facilitate connectedness and coping. It serves as one component of a broader program for change that includes other project activities such as community events, trainings, a digital storytelling project, an “I Am LIFE” media campaign, and other efforts. The Facebook page (and also a YouTube channel) serves as a means to connect community members with the local activities and events, to reinforce positive and affirming messages that promote coping and community connection, and to highlight available resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The project chose social media channels that their audience already uses to increase the likelihood of participation.
The posts on this page don’t normalize suicide in the community, portray it as heroic or honorable, or provide unsafe details about individual suicide deaths.
Both the project as a whole and its Facebook page focus on positive themes such as living life well, connecting with others, and coping with challenges. For example, one series of posts encourages the audience to participate in creating a media campaign by completing phrases “I look forward to the future because…”, “Life is sacred because… “, “I have hope because…”, and “I am alive because…” While many of the posts don’t address suicide specifically, those that do have inspiring messages like “don’t give up” and include prevention resources such as the Lifeline number.
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Youth.
What it is:
A news release with a message from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about Suicide Prevention Month posted on September 3, 2013.Tags: press release, military/veteran, working with the news media, government, publicize services
The primary audience for this message is military service members and their families, with a secondary audience being the news-reading public. The apparent goals are to affirm top-level support for suicide prevention and to encourage and normalize help-seeking. It includes a clear call to action—to call the Military Crisis Line—and the necessary information and encouragement to do so (the phone number, and the fact that it’s confidential and available 24 hours, year-round). The language and framing are tailored to a military audience: for example, characterizing help-seeking as a choice that embodies courage, honor, and integrity.
This message does not normalize or sensationalize the problem of suicide among service members and veterans and avoids reinforcing negative and inaccurate stereotypes about these populations (e.g., that few who face difficulties successfully cope with them.)
Secretary Hagel’s remarks emphasize the actions the Department of Defense is taking, available services, and how military values support calling the Military Crisis Line and supporting one another. Rather than leaving the common impression that military suicide is an unstoppable epidemic, this statement emphasizes concrete solutions, available resources, and actions people can take.
This statement is a good example of providing the media with information that focuses on prevention and encouraging journalists to cover this part of the story. The guide Making Headlines: A Guide to Engaging the Media in Suicide Prevention in California and the other resources in the Guidelines category Working with News Media include information about how to work effectively with the media to promote prevention-focused coverage.
“Seeking behavioral health care is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor and integrity. Those values are at the foundation of what that we stand for and what we defend. The Military Crisis Line is there for all who need it. I encourage anyone in need to call 1-800-273-8255 and press ‘one’ to speak to a trained professional, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is confidential and available to all service members and their families.”
What it is:
This blog post, which appeared on the Policy Research Associates (PRA) website, was written by a PRA employee who is also a parent. The parent describes attending a suicide prevention training and feeling interested but comfortably distant from the training content because it was aimed at a different professional audience. Nevertheless, the training successfully instilled the core message, which is to “ask” if you suspect someone is considering suicide. The post describes the parent’s surprise and gratitude at later noticing signs of depression in their own child and having the courage and knowledge to ask the questions and being able to get the right help.Tags: blog, personal stories, promote an organization or program
This organization’s mission to “create positive social change” is front and center on its website. The blog post provides one small but vivid example of how PRA is achieving that aim. Sharing this programmatic success story serves multiple goals. The focus on positive outcomes positions the organization as effective and credible (an important message for funders, partners, potential program participants, and other stakeholders). It also supports broader prevention goals by illustrating how suicide prevention training can build the knowledge and skills needed to identify people at risk of suicide and connect them with services and supports. By describing the signs of depression and how to ask about suicide, the post incorporates information about when and how to act. It builds in motivation to learn these skills by highlighting the tangible benefits the parent received from the training. The post also prominently features the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline logo as a resource for immediate help. Having the parent tell their own story in the first person gives it authenticity and heart.
This post does not include any unsafe content, such as making suicidal behavior seem romantic or attractive or oversimplifying its causes.
This blog clearly conveys a Positive Narrative about suicide, specifically that there are actions people can take to help prevent it and that treatment can work. It also enables readers to picture vividly what the parent learned in the training and how the knowledge was translated into action.
For guidance on proactively and systematically gathering program success stories, see Impact and Value: Telling Your Program's Story. While this resource was developed for oral health program managers, the content applies to any organization or program.
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Social Media.
“When I asked my child, “are you thinking of killing yourself?” and the answer was “yes,” I was so grateful that I had the courage and knowledge to ask the question. My child was relieved, as though a pressure had been lifted.”
What it is:
This series of tweets on June 1, 2013 from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) features an array of AFSP programs and services that will be supported by funds raised through the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk.Tags: social media, fundraising, Twitter
These messages are designed to achieve a specific operational goal: to raise funds for the organization. They are thoughtfully planned and timed, and include a specific call to action for the audience (to make donations). At the same time, these messages also advance a broader suicide prevention goal, which is to increase the public’s knowledge about the array of AFSP programs, policies, and services that exist to help prevent suicide.
These messages avoid content that normalizes suicide or makes it seem unstoppable, such as providing dire statistics or using language like “epidemic.”
These tweets send the overarching message that something can and is being done about suicide. The level of detail helps the public to picture what suicide prevention looks like in action.
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Telling Others’ Stories.
What it is:
This website is part of a multimedia health resource with content for Native youth, by Native youth. Geared to teens and young adults, the site provides content and stories about the topics that matter most to this audience. Issues addressed range from physical and sexual health to mental health and life skills. The project is managed by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board.Tags: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Youth, website, social media, increase life skills, increase resiliency and coping, promote connectedness, increase help-seeking, provide crisis supports
The website is part of a broader multicomponent effort with defined goals: to address health and social issues important to Native youth, to promote holistic health and positive identity among Native teens and young adults, and to promote behavior change and community action. The project has a clearly defined audience (Native youth in WA, OR, and ID), and uses a mix of communication channels that are geared to reach that audience. The selection of channels was based on a survey of over 400 Native youth in the region to better understand how they use media technologies. The survey revealed that technology use by this audience was very common and quite diverse, so the project decided to launch a multimedia campaign that included the website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and text messaging service. The website provides a variety of useful resources and tools to encourage and enable the audience to take action to improve their wellness, connect with other Native youth in a safe virtual space, and take action in their communities. For example, action steps and tips are incorporated into each topic area. In addition, the “Get Involved” section of the website provides an opportunity to apply for mini-grants to support community service projects and showcases examples of Native teens and young adults doing great things in their communities.
The content on this site avoids giving the impression that suicidal behavior in Native communities is more common than it actually is (i.e., “normalizing”) and avoids data or language that suggests that suicide is inevitable or unsolvable.
WeRNative focuses on healthful living and encourages youth empowerment and help-seeking behavior, communicating a positive message to those who may be struggling with physical, sexual, or mental health concerns. It also showcases positive stories and highlights concrete actions that the audience can take to improve their own health and make a difference in their communities.
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Culturally Specific Messaging
What it is:
Aliçia is a mental health advocate who speaks and writes publicly about her personal experiences with mental illness and suicidality and her path to recovery. In one example of her outreach, Aliçia wrote “It was no longer whispers,” a February 4, 2013 post for the American Association of Suicidology’s Suicide Attempt Survivors Blog.Tags: blog, personal stories, suicide attempt survivors, public speaking
According to her website, Aliçia’s overall goals for her work include helping others to connect to the lived experience of people who experience mental health issues and reducing the prejudice and discrimination often attached to these problems. One way she pursues these aims is by publicly telling her own story, an approach to stigma reduction that is supported by research. Her AAS blog post reflects her overall goals and serves a specific purpose outlined in the introduction: to explore how attempt survivors can make the transition to speaking openly about their experiences. In the post, Aliçia includes content relevant to the audience and purpose. For example, she discusses how speaking out rather than hiding her suicidality has increased her self-acceptance. She describes steps she took to educate herself about suicide and mental health and how this knowledge helped her grow as a speaker and shape her messages. She also observes that the world has become more open and receptive to conversations about mental health and suicide since she first began speaking.
Aliçia’s writings and talks adhere to the Safety recommendations. For example, she doesn’t include potentially harmful details about her attempt that vulnerable individuals might imitate. She also avoids making it seem like most people with mental illnesses attempt suicide (i.e., “normalizing” suicide), instead focusing on her own recovery and how others can help. In addition to being safe, the focus on help and recovery adds to a “Positive Narrative” - see the next bullet.
Aliçia’s AAS blog post describes her conscious decision to make sure her talks convey a message of recovery: “As my speaking career grew, I grew with it. I learn[ed] more about mental health, took suicide prevention courses like ASIST and QPR, and made sure the messages I was sharing were a good mix of truth and positivity to inspire others that recovery was possible."
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Stigma Reduction.
This quote from Aliçia’s blog post highlights the changes she has observed in people’s willingness to discuss suicide and mental health openly: “…I am seeing the world change. [People] are telling me how my simple act of sharing my story of recovery with social media has inspired them to get help, to reach out to a loved one, or to share their own story. Our voices are getting louder. We are getting stronger.” - Aliçia Raimundo
What it is:
Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, MTV and actress Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. This initiative addresses issues like bullying, negative self-image, discrimination, loneliness and depression by “raising the volume” around the message that love and support are louder than any internal or external voice that “brings us down.” The emphasis is on coping and resiliency: “Even as we work to stop negative words and actions that hurt us, we can strengthen our abilities to cope with hard times, focus on the positive, support the people around us and reach out for help if we need it.” Love is Louder began as a campaign to engage college students and grew into a nationwide movement with participation by more than hundred thousand college students, youth, and community members of all ages.Tags: Young adult, campaign, social media, bullying, Facebook, Twitter, increase resiliency and coping, promote connectedness
Its overall goal—engaging students to be proactive about their emotional health and to feel connected and look out for their peers—is grounded in the Jed Foundation's broader mission: promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students.
To shape the message, the project partners used audience research as well as lessons learned from creating prior campaigns. The research showed that few students were interested in conversations or online spaces focused solely on “mental health.” However, students did respond well to discussions about how they and their friends feel and what they’re experiencing, especially when integrated into technology and social networks they already use.
The campaign built in clear calls to action in three areas: to feel better, to help others, and to change your campus and community, with an emphasis on providing examples of small concrete achievable steps in each area . The centerpiece of the initiative is an extensive social media presence that encourages taking action in the form of sharing struggles, seeking support, offering support to others, using actions to help rather than hurt, and sharing pictures, stories, and messages that love is louder than things that cause pain. A complementary website with materials and tools provides specifics on how to take action online and in local communities. For example, an Action Kit includes an Action Card, which prompts individuals to identify self-care behaviors, ways to help others, and things that make them feel positive. The Kit includes guidance for planning local events and activities to spread Love is Louder messages and actions and encourages sharing of stories and photos from these events online. The website also describes how to take an action photo, create an action page, plan an event, find help, and donate.
The campaign itself does not share messages or materials that violate the Safety guidelines. Because the initiative focuses on positive messages and actions, most individuals who post comments and photos tend to follow those themes and rarely include unsafe details or content that normalizes suicide. Posts indicating that the person is upset or distressed are usually met with encouraging comments by other followers. The project team has a protocol for responding to content or messages about feeling hopeless or suicidal by sending the person a message and/or reporting them to the social media site for imminent risk.
his initiative conveys that there are actions people can take to prevent suicide, that coping and recovery are possible, and that there’s value in uniting our voices to amplify messages that highlight actions and stories of coping. Negative experiences aren’t forbidden topics; the campaign materials encourage participants to express negative feelings, especially through creative means. These expressions provide the opportunity for peers to provide support and share real stories of how they got through tough times. Thus, individuals’ authentic experiences are honored, but aren’t turned into an overall negative narrative such as “all LGBT kids are bullied” or “no one in this situation ever gets help.”
See other resources in the Guidelines category Social Media.
The Framework for Successful Messaging is a project of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Learn more about the Action Alliance.
The Action Alliance is supported by grants (1 U79 SM059945; 3 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information on this website is intended or should be inferred.
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