What could stimulate a social movement for change to eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and suicide bereavement? 

These were just two of the many questions we asked ourselves as we sought to find a way to reduce over 200 suicides a year in Greater Manchester.

Once funding was in place from NHS England, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership awarded Manchester based Glorious Creative to lead on the work.

The timeframe for the planned campaign launch was very tight but capturing the views of those who had experience of suicide was essential. National insight and previous campaign successes where used to form the basis of the brief and then focus groups were run with men, students and the LGBT community; three specific groups we wanted the campaign to reach. We went on to also include a military veteran and a mother bereaved by suicide.

We also conducted a pre-campaign perception survey were 65% said they know someone who’s died from suicide. The highest responses to what would encourage you to talk? ‘Someone asking me if I’m ok’ – 58% and ‘knowing it’s ok to ask for help’ – 57%.

A key piece of advice shared in every focus group was that we had to use the word suicide.

By using the word itself we would be challenging a taboo.

By encouraging people to talk about suicide our intention was to help them see that suicide was never a solution to their problems.

By sharing personal stories of those who had taken steps to end their lives or been bereaved by suicide, we would be chipping away at the stigma that exists; which stops people speaking up about their distress and seeking support.

By showing people that they weren’t alone with their thoughts and others had got through difficult times finding a reason to stay alive, we intended to inspire hope.

Launched on May 1st, 2019, Shining a light on suicide campaign has had thousands of positive comments and feedback from around the world; the campaign video reaching 25 thousand people since the launch. And thousands more watching the personal videos.

Owen, Armed Forces veteran and campaign volunteer who has shared his personal story said,

“We have received text messages, emails and family and friends dropping in for a brew. It has shocked a lot of people in a positive way who didn’t realise what I was going through.

Amongst the Veteran community that I am part of, it has had a positive impact with people not only sharing but also letting people know they are there to listen and requesting family and friends to do the same. As I have friends and family stretching round the world I know the link has been shared not only all over the UK but as far as Australia and America “.

Media messages continue to spread widely with many influential people and organisations reaching out to 1 million followers so far.

The campaign has had more social media hits than any previous Greater Manchester Health and Social Care campaign.

We continue to be excited about the local plans being developed to promote the campaign further and to hear of the support the volunteers who shared their stories have received.

It has been just over a week since the launch and we could not have hoped for better progress.

We want everyone to get involved and help to save a life – take the free 20 minute save a life training

To see the campaign toolkit and personal stories visit www.shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk

#shiningalightonsuicide

 

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