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Journal Article


Pirkis J, Rossetto A, Nicholas A, Ftanou M, Robinson J, Reavley N. Health Commun. 2019; 34(4): 402-414.


a Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health , The University of Melbourne.


(Copyright © 2019, Informa Healthcare)






Suicide prevention media campaigns are gaining traction as a means of combatting suicide. The current review set out to synthesize information about the effectiveness of these campaigns. We searched four electronic databases for studies that provided evidence on the effectiveness of media campaigns. We focused on studies that described an evaluation of the effectiveness of an entire campaign or a public service announcement explicitly aimed at suicide prevention. We identified 20 studies of varying quality. Studies that looked at whether campaign exposure leads to improved knowledge and awareness of suicide found support for this. Most studies that considered whether campaign materials can achieve improvements in attitudes toward suicide also found this to be the case, although there were some exceptions. Some studies found that media campaigns could boost help-seeking, whereas others suggested that they made no difference or only had an impact when particular sources of help or particular types of help-seeking were considered. Relatively few studies had sufficient statistical power to examine whether media campaigns had an impact on the ultimate behavioral outcome of suicides, but those that did demonstrated significant reductions. Our review indicates that media campaigns should be considered in the suite of interventions that might be used to prevent suicide. Evidence for their effectiveness is still amassing, but there are strong suggestions that they can achieve positive results in terms of certain suicide-related outcomes. Care should be taken to ensure that campaign developers get the messaging of campaigns right, and further work is needed to determine which messages work and which ones do not, and how effective messages should be disseminated. There is an onus on those developing and delivering campaigns to evaluate them carefully and to share the findings with others. There is a need for evaluations that employ rigorous designs assessing the most pertinent outcomes. These evaluations should explore the nature of given campaigns in detail - in particular the messaging contained within them - in order to tease out which messages work well and which do not. They should also take into account the reach of the campaign, in order to determine whether it would be reasonable to expect that they might have their desired effect.

Language: en


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