Online Program

Let's Talk: Empowering teenagers through an innovative suicide prevention campaign

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Sarah Keller, M.S., Ph.D., Department of Communication and Theater, Montana State University Billings, Billings, MT
Lani Paulson Miller, M.S., Ph.D. Student, Department of Communication and Theater, Montana State University Billings, Billings, MT
Danielle Arnoux, MPA Student, Department of Communication and Theater, Montana State University Billings, Billings, MT
Montana has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation and the suicide rate for youths in 2010 and 2011 was double the national average.  In order to address this public health issue among teenagers, ages 14 to 18, an innovative suicide prevention campaign was piloted in Eastern Montana in 2012 and in Montana’s largest community in 2014.  The campaign used theater performances to give teenagers the opportunity to voice their experiences with suicide and depression and to facilitate open community dialogues with teenagers and adults. The project goals were to increase teenagers’ self-efficacy to access help, and to help peers confronting struggles with suicide and depression.  Results from the 2012 campaign showed that teenagers exposed to the campaign, pre-test (n = 224) and post-test (n = 217), had significantly higher self-efficacy for accessing prevention resources compared to those who reported no campaign exposure (pre-test mean = 2.80, SD = 1.43; post-test mean = 3.06, SD 1.1; p ≤ .05).  A significant increase also occurred in the percentage who said they would feel comfortable talking to someone else if a friend confided in them about suicidal thoughts or intentions (pre-test mean = 1.56, SD = 1.39; post-test mean = 1.96, SD = 1.02; p ≤.01).  Qualitative results from the 2014 campaign showed that teenage participants had increased self-efficacy for interpersonal communication about suicide and depression and increased awareness of suicide prevention resources.  The findings of these campaigns have the potential to inform future suicide prevention campaigns directed toward teenagers.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how theater performances can be used in suicide prevention campaigns. Describe how teenagers can be empowered through the use of theater performances in suicide prevention campaigns.

Keyword(s): Child/Adolescent Mental Health, Health Promotion and Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the primary research assistant on a community-based suicide prevention project funded by the NIH for the past 3 years. I previously worked for the local public health agency as a Prevention Health Specialist where I was responsible for creating and implementing public health interventions. My scientific interests include research, evaluation, and implementation of social media campaigns and community-based media projects that address behavior and attitude change.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.