These examples are designed to bring the Framework for Successful Messaging to life and inspire you to think about the four elements of Strategy, Safety, Positive Narrative, and Guidelines when developing or choosing your own messages and materials.
- The examples are intended as inspiration; resist the urge to imitate or adopt others’ messaging without thinking through your own goals, audiences, and how it fits in with your overall efforts. In other words, always start with Strategy.
- While the Framework for Successful Messaging outlines core principles for developing messages that research tells us are more likely to be safe and effective, conducting evaluation is the only true test. Most of these examples weren’t evaluated, so unless the description mentions research outcomes, we simply don’t know whether or not they were effective in achieving their goals.
Aliçia Raimundo attempted to take her own life. Today, speaking publicly about her attempt, she focuses on conveying that recovery is possible.
What it is:
Aliçia is a mental health advocate who speaks and writes publicly about her personal experiences with mental illness and suicidality and her path to recovery. In one example of her outreach, Aliçia wrote “It was no longer whispers,” a February 4, 2013 post for the American Association of Suicidology’s Suicide Attempt Survivors Blog.Tags: Blog, Personal stories, Suicide attempt survivors, Public speaking
According to her website, Aliçia’s overall goals for her work include helping others to connect to the lived experience of people who experience mental health issues and reducing the prejudice and discrimination often attached to these problems. One way she pursues these aims is by publicly telling her own story, an approach to stigma reduction that is supported by research. Her AAS blog post reflects her overall goals and serves a specific purpose outlined in the introduction: to explore how attempt survivors can make the transition to speaking openly about their experiences. In the post, Aliçia includes content relevant to the audience and purpose. For example, she discusses how speaking out rather than hiding her suicidality has increased her self-acceptance. She describes steps she took to educate herself about suicide and mental health and how this knowledge helped her grow as a speaker and shape her messages. She also observes that the world has become more open and receptive to conversations about mental health and suicide since she first began speaking.
Aliçia’s writings and talks adhere to the Safety recommendations. For example, she doesn’t include potentially harmful details about her attempt that vulnerable individuals might imitate. She also avoids making it seem like most people with mental illnesses attempt suicide (i.e., “normalizing” suicide), instead focusing on her own recovery and how others can help. In addition to being safe, the focus on help and recovery adds to a “Positive Narrative” — see the next bullet.
Aliçia’s AAS blog post describes her conscious decision to make sure her talks convey a message of recovery: “As my speaking career grew, I grew with it. I learn[ed] more about mental health, took suicide prevention courses like ASIST and QPR, and made sure the messages I was sharing were a good mix of truth and positivity to inspire others that recovery was possible.”
Guideline Example relevant to this type of message:
Also see resources in the Guidelines category Stigma Reduction.
This quote from Aliçia’s blog post highlights the changes she has observed in people’s willingness to discuss suicide and mental health openly: “…I am seeing the world change. [People] are telling me how my simple act of sharing my story of recovery with social media has inspired them to get help, to reach out to a loved one, or to share their own story. Our voices are getting louder. We are getting stronger.” — Aliçia Raimundo