Suicide Prevention Public Service Announcements (PSAs): Examples from Around the World

Maria Ftanou, Georgina Cox, Angela Nicholas, Matthew J. Spittal, Anna Machlin, Jo Robinson, Jane Pirkis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Media campaigns have received increased attention as an intervention for combating suicide. Suicide prevention campaigns involving public service announcements (PSAs) have not been well described and have been subject to minimal evaluation. This study aimed to identify suicide prevention PSAs from around the world and analyze and describe their content. We searched the Internet for short, English-language PSAs that had been screened as part of suicide prevention campaigns and identified 35. Most commonly, these PSAs focused on the general population and/or people who might be at risk of suicide, and had a particular emphasis on young people. Almost 60% promoted open discussion about suicide, around 50% indicated that the life of a suicidal person was important, about 40% acknowledged the suffering associated with suicidal thoughts and feelings, about 25% stressed that suicide is preventable, and about 20% focused on the devastating impact of suicide for those left behind. Most PSAs promoted some sort of support for people at risk of suicide, usually a helpline or website. Although these messages appeared appropriate and practical there is a lack of research on the impact that they may have on people with varying degrees of suicide risk. Further work is needed to ensure that they are consistent with theories of behavior change, and that they are having their desired impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-501
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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