Getting Public About Emotional Wellbeing
Helping the Media Better Understand Suicide and Suicide Prevention
This past year,
the Lifeline answered
over 2.2 million calls.
Vibrant believes emotional wellbeing
should be a social responsibility. Through education and outreach, Vibrant is promoting mental health awareness and providing people with the information and tools to help themselves and each other. We are changing the conversation around mental health and emotional wellbeing.
“This media coverage had a dramatic impact, with call volume to the Lifeline’s 24/7, toll-free number increasing by 65%, and more than 10,000 calls on a single day.”
—DR. JOHN DRAPER
Vibrant Emotional Health, which administers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, helps the media better understand how to communicate more effectively about suicide and suicide prevention. We know better reporting can help to save lives by showing people who are struggling that recovery is not only possible, but that it is happening every day.
For too long, media coverage has focused on the prevalence of suicide,
a celebrity’s suicide or on the specific details of a famous person’s death. But, when people have access to the supports they need coupled with
the media sharing stories of people successfully coping with suicidal moments, research shows that suicide rates are reduced.
We see stories all the time about survivors of breast cancer or heart disease, but until recently, we haven’t seen those stories of hope about suicide. This absence leaves people going through a suicidal crisis feeling isolated, when in fact they’re not alone. Studies show that the overwhelming majority of people with suicidal thoughts get through it. For every person who takes their life, 280 people think seriously about suicide but don’t kill themselves.
Following the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the media was motivated to share a different kind of story about suicide — one focused on recovery. This sentiment was driven in part by recent findings, which associated widespread media reporting about Robin Williams’ 2014 suicide with a 10% increase in suicides nationally in the weeks following. In light of these recently published data, journalists were provided with a stark reminder of the responsibility they carried in reporting on the Spade and Bourdain suicides.
In the days following these deaths, the media repeatedly asked us how they could report the story without causing harm. This represented a significant change resulting in countless high- profile stories of hope and recovery being published, including in USA Today, Cosmopolitan, CNN, People and Entertainment Weekly.
Call volume to the Lifeline’s 24/7, toll- free number increased by 65%, and more than 10,000 calls were received on a single day.
Together, Vibrant Emotional Health and the media are continuing to work together to have an enormous, positive impact on people vulnerable to suicide. By building greater awareness of support resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, sharing stories that model how people have coped through despair to find hope, and providing concrete action steps for people
wishing to “be the one to help save a life” (bethe1to.com), Vibrant is helping
to change the public conversation from suicide to suicide prevention.
—DR. JOHN DRAPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE & EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NETWORKS