The Framework for Successful Messaging was created by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), a public-private partnership devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP).

In 2012 the Action Alliance chose four initial priorities, including “changing the public conversation about suicide prevention and suicide prevention.” The Framework for Successful Messaging is one initiative designed to advance this priority. The central resource for the Framework is this website, SuicidePreventionMessaging.org. For more information about the research and background work that led to the four Framework components, see Background Research.

What is “changing the public conversation” all about?

The Action Alliance website describes the overall priority as follows:

The Action Alliance will leverage the media and national leaders to change the national narratives around suicide and suicide prevention to ones that promote hope, connectedness, social support, resilience, treatment and recovery. This initiative will fundamentally transform attitudes and behaviors relating to suicide and suicide prevention. Messages that promote hope, connectedness, social support, resilience, treatment and recovery can fundamentally change the course for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. This priority will promote stories of those who have struggled, yet were resilient, found help or treatment, and established a stronger will to go on living. It will also promote the cultural norm of providing social support and connectedness for vulnerable individuals to fundamentally change the course for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.

The work on this priority is being pursued via two-pronged approach:

  • “Messengers”: the Framework for Successful Messaging and SuicidePreventionMessaging.org are designed to help individuals messaging publicly about suicide to develop messages that are strategic, safe, contribute to a positive narrative, and follow applicable guidelines.
  • Media/Entertainment Professionals: The Action Alliance is also engaged in collaborative efforts to encourage journalists and the entertainment industry to adhere to the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide and to accurately portray suicide and mental illnesses in the media and online.The primary resource for media professionals is www.reportingonsuicide.org.

What do you mean by “the conversation” and “national narratives” about suicide?

We mean the overarching messages the field conveys about suicide and suicide prevention that, taken together, impact public perceptions about the problem and available solutions. The field disseminates messages to the public in many ways, for example:

  • Posters and PSAs
  • Social media posts
  • Organizational websites
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Publicity for events and observances
  • And many more.

Messages from all of these sources help shape national beliefs and perceptions about suicide.Some narratives are about suicide generally, for example, “suicide is an unsolvable problem” or “if someone wants to kill him or herself, there’s nothing anyone can do.” Other narratives pertain to specific groups – for example, “there is an epidemic of suicide among military and veteran populations, and no help is available for them.” One purpose of the Framework initiative is to harness the collective voice of the field to help spread messages of resilience, recovery, connectedness, hope, and prevention successes.

Does the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) discuss messaging?

Yes! The Framework for Successful Suicide Prevention reflects the most recent NSSP, which was revised in 2012 to reflect the latest science.

2012 NSSP Goal and Related Objectives

Goal 2:  Implement research-informed communication efforts designed to prevent suicide by changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

  • Objective 2.1: Develop, implement, and evaluate communication efforts designed to reach defined segments of the population.
  • Objective 2.2: Reach policymakers with dedicated communication efforts.
  • Objective 2.3: Increase communication efforts conducted online that promote positive messages and support safe crisis intervention strategies.
  • Objective 2.4: Increase knowledge of the warning signs for suicide and of how to connect individuals in crisis with assistance and care.

Note: In the NSSP, efforts to promote safe and accurate news and entertainment coverage are categorized under a different goal than public messaging (Goal 4). This distinction is consistent with the two-pronged approach to the Action Alliance priority.

Who is working on the Framework initiative?