Communication efforts such as public education campaigns have drawn increased attention for their potential as interventions for suicide prevention and mental health promotion. For example, the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention notes the important role messaging can play in facilitating help seeking by influencing individual characteristics (e.g., knowledge and attitudes) and supporting the development of larger environments that validate and motivate healthy behavior (e.g., reduced stigma, shifts in perceptions of normative behavior). While the use of communication strategies as universal interventions is becoming increasingly popular in public health approaches to suicide prevention, little is known of the effects of such initiatives as limited empirical data has been published to date. This presentation addresses this gap by discussing tools (models) implemented in health communication research to understand the broad impact of messaging, present examples of methods utilized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assess outcomes associated with VA sponsored suicide prevention campaigns, and examine implications of such public health interventions.
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