In addition to creating suicide prevention messages that are strategic, safe, and contribute to a Positive Narrative about suicide prevention, it is important to follow specific guidelines or recommendations that apply to your particular messages. After planning your Strategy, use the selection menu below to see Guidelines related to various goals, populations, channels, topics and other areas that may relate to your communications plan.

The Guidelines listed here address specific areas—in other words, they’ll be useful in developing some kinds of messages but not others. For example, if  your plan includes using a video, you can consult the “AAS Criteria for Educational Videos on Youth Suicide.” If you are a suicide loss or attempt survivor planning to tell your story to the public, you can refer to “Special considerations for telling your own story: Best practices for presentations by suicide loss and suicide attempt survivors.” For resources related to Strategy, Safety, and Positive Narrative, see those pages.

The Guidelines listed here are not meant to be a comprehensive list of messaging resources but offer a few best resources for key areas. If you can’t find the category you are looking for, we have not yet listed a guideline for that area.

Please visit the SPRC online library for an extenitsive collection of suicide prevention resources.

Graphic with a circle divided into three equal parts, labeled Positive Narrative, Safety, and Guidelines, encompassed by a circle labeled Strategy

How “Guidelines” Fits Into the Framework

The Guidelines component of the Framework comes into play after first thinking through your Strategy, including goals, audience, channels, and other key decisions. After you have your Strategy, visit this page to check whether there are any guidelines or best practices that apply. All messages should also adhere to Safety recommendations and in some way promote a Positive Narrative about suicide prevention by including actions, solutions, successes, or resources.

All Guidelines

Topics Category

Communicating to advance the public's health: Workshop summary

On September 22, 2014, the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Population Health Improvement held a workshop to discuss some of the science of health communication, audiences, and messaging, and to explore what it will take to generate widespread awareness, acceptance, and action to improve health, including through the entertainment media, the news media, and social media. This report summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop.

Channels, Working with News Media, Social Media, Settings, Health Care

Culture and community: Suicide prevention resources for Native Americans in California

The document describes culturally relevant resources to plan and engage in suicide prevention programs, discusses safe messaging and social marketing, and illustrates suicide prevention materials from 19 American Indian communities in 11 states. An appendix provides American Indian and Alaska Native sources for materials on topics related to suicide, such as mental health, addiction, and depression. Although the title indicates this is for Californians, it is relevant for all parts of the nation.

Populations, American Indian-Alaska Native

Developing an effective evaluation plan: Setting the course for effective program evaluation

The purpose of this workbook is to help public health program managers, administrators, and evaluators develop a joint understanding of what constitutes an evaluation plan, why it is important, and how to develop an effective evaluation plan in the context of the planning process. It is intended to assist in developing an evaluation plan but not to serve as a complete resource on how to implement program evaluation. Rather, it should be used along with other evaluation resources, such as those listed in the resource section of this workbook.

Engaging and empowering aboriginal youth: A toolkit for service providers

This tooklit covers understanding and integrating cultural identity, increasing youth engagement,  establishing partnerships, and evaluation when developing programs for youth violence prevention. While it focuses on aboriginal populations in Canada, much of the content also applies to youth empowerment initiatives with Native youth in the United States. 

Populations, American Indian-Alaska Native, Culture, Culturally Specific Messaging, Topics, Youth

Evaluating communication campaigns

Derived in part from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Research and Evaluation Conference in 2007, this resource addresses evaluation of communications campaigns, policy-oriented communications, and advocacy efforts.  The report offers information on the principles of evaluation, choosing your evaluation design, and overcoming the particular barriers that can arise with communication evaluation.

Evaluation, Evaluation Planning

Faces and Voices of Recovery

These web pages from Faces and Voices of Recovery provide “Recovery Messaging” training to help people in recovery from addiction and their families to speak publicly about their experiences in a way that helps build public support for people getting the help they need to recover.  Featured tip sheets and other resources offers guidance on working with the media, outreach to policymakers, public speaking, and other kinds of messaging. 

Channels, Working with News Media, Public Speaking, Topics, Recovery, Telling Personal Stories, Telling Others’ Stories, Telling Your Own Story

Guide to choosing and adapting culturally and linguistically competent health promotion materials

This resource from the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development will help you create or adapt materials to ensure they are respectful of the cultural values, beliefs, and practices of the intended audience. 

Culture, Adapting Messages or Materials

Impact and value: Telling your program's story

The purpose of this workbook is to help public health program administrators understand what a “success story” is, why it is important to tell success stories, and how to develop success stories.

Channels, Working with News Media, Goals and Activities, Promote an Organization or Program, Telling Personal Stories, Telling Others’ Stories, Telling Your Own Story

Lessons in evaluating communications campaigns: Five case studies

This paper examines how communication campaigns with different purposes (individual behavior change and policy change) have been evaluated. It offers a discussion of theories of change that can guide evaluation planning, along with five case studies of completed campaign evaluations. Each case study includes lessons learned from the evaluation, and the paper finishes with a set of cross-case-study lessons gleaned from these and other evaluations.

Evaluation, Evaluation Planning

Lifeline online postvention manual

The recommendations in this manual detail how to safely memorialize someone who has died by suicide. These guidelines can be applied to online memorials and online messages about the deceased.

Postvention Messaging, Online Postvention Messaging