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2000 Oregon Youth Suicide Prevention PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS
The Oregon Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention
Related WWW links.STRATEGY 1: DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS
Resources for Strategy #1
OBJECTIVE
Develop and implement public education campaigns that will:
  • increase knowledge about symptoms of depression, suicide risk and protective factors, indicators of possible suicidal behavior, skills for responding to a suicidal individual, and community resources
  • increase help-seeking behavior by decreasing the stigma associated with behavioral health care
AUDIENCE
General public.

RATIONALE AND EFFICACY
Many adolescents report that embarrassment, stigma, and fear are the main reasons they do not seek help for their problems. Studies show also that most adolescents do not seek help for suicidal ideation even when it is identified as the most pressing problem they are experiencing.8

Recognizing and responding appropriately to such troubled youth can prevent suicides. In addition, wider public understanding of the science of the brain and behavior can reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for behavioral health problems, and consequently may contribute to reducing the risk of suicidal behavior.

A community-wide public education campaign can be an effective way to provide useful information on these subjects to all citizens. Evaluation of such a campaign recently conducted in Washington state indicates that it increased: (1) awareness of information about youth suicide prevention, (2) recognition of indicators of suicidal behavior, and (3) willingness to use suicide intervention skills in helping distressed youth.9

IMPLEMENTATION CONSIDERATIONS
Greater public awareness and knowledge about youth suicide prevention may expand the need for mental health and crisis intervention services. Providers should anticipate this possibility with contingency plans for managing the increased demand.

Public education campaigns about suicide prevention must be sustained efforts in order to maintain a necessary level of awareness.

SAMPLE IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES

  • Secure agreements from television broadcast stations to air public service announcements.
  • Work with local print media to publish feature articles on adolescent depression and youth suicide prevention.
  • Create, produce, and disseminate information through a variety of sources, including: grocery bags, book marks, slides at movie theaters, milk cartons, and local public access televised media.
  • Disseminate informational flyers, brochures, and other materials to identified groups.
  • Organize a community-wide Youth Suicide Prevention Week.
  • Create, produce, and post informational posters in youth centers, health centers, employee assistance offices, and other places with high visibility to the general public.
  • Create and distribute wallet cards to youth in and out of school, parents, and the general public that contain information about warning signs, how to help, and local/state/national resources.
  • Create a speaker?s bureau of professionals, survivors, youth, etc., for community presentations.
Knowing the signs of depression and suicide, and what to do can save lives.


REFERENCES
8 COMPAS, Inc. Canadian Youth Mental Health amp&; Illness Survey: Survey Overview, Interview Schedule and Demographic Crosstabulations. A COMPAS Survey Conducted for the Canadian Psychiatric Association. 1993. Ottawa,Ontario.
9 University of Washington, School of Nursing. Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Program. Report of Activities 1997-1999. 1999. Seattle, Washington.
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