A news release with a message from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about Suicide Prevention Month posted on September 3, 2013.
The primary audience for this message is military service members and their families, with a secondary audience being the news-reading public. The apparent goals are to affirm top-level support for suicide prevention and to encourage and normalize help-seeking. It includes a clear call to action—to call the Military Crisis Line—and the necessary information and encouragement to do so (the phone number, and the fact that it’s confidential and available 24 hours, year-round). The language and framing are tailored to a military audience: for example, characterizing help-seeking as a choice that embodies courage, honor, and integrity.
This message does not normalize or sensationalize the problem of suicide among service members and veterans and avoids reinforcing negative and inaccurate stereotypes about these populations (e.g., that few who face difficulties successfully cope with them.)
Secretary Hagel’s remarks emphasize the actions the Department of Defense is taking, available services, and how military values support calling the Military Crisis Line and supporting one another. Rather than leaving the common impression that military suicide is an unstoppable epidemic, this statement emphasizes concrete solutions, available resources, and actions people can take.
This statement is a good example of providing the media with information that focuses on prevention and encouraging journalists to cover this part of the story. The guide Making Headlines: A Guide to Engaging the Media in Suicide Prevention in California and the other resources in the Guidelines category Working with News Media include information about how to work effectively with the media to promote prevention-focused coverage.
“Seeking behavioral health care is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor and integrity. Those values are at the foundation of what that we stand for and what we defend. The Military Crisis Line is there for all who need it. I encourage anyone in need to call 1-800-273-8255 and press ‘one’ to speak to a trained professional, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is confidential and available to all service members and their families.”