Addressing a Painful Problem
Alaska’s suicide rate is one of the highest in the nation. In rural Alaska, suicide rates are among the highest in the world, with more young people ages 15-24 dying by suicide than in any other state (American Association of Suicidology).
Spawn Ideas set out to shed light on this crisis and find a way to prevent suicide. Together with Anchorage Rotary Club, the Agency’s 2016 pro bono client, we decided to get every Rotary group in the state involved (1,700 Rotarians). A single club’s project became a statewide commitment.
Showing People Their Power
Many people don’t realize they have the power to save another person’s life. Research shows that a suicidal person feels isolated, so positive and healthy relationships are a key factor in prevention.
Learning this, our campaign’s aim was to empower Alaskans to overcome the barriers they felt to helping a friend or family member with depression and/or suicidal behaviors. We did this by encouraging giving, sharing, and outreach modes (Learn more about Spawn’s approach to mode here.)
A "THREE-LEGGED STOOL" SOLUTION
Spawn worked with suicide prevention experts – the state’s Mental Health Board, the state’s suicide prevention coordinator and the chair of a major Suicide Prevention Coalition – to get the message right.
Cash and in-kind services from our generous partners (Rotary, GCI, Denali Media, The Alaska Mental Health Trust, Alaska Children’s Trust, Alaska Department of Health & Social Services and others) catapulted our unfunded pro bono effort into a major campaign.
Among its elements: 1) More than 1,400 Rotarians statewide were offered the suicide prevention training called Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) – a program that teaches regular people how to talk to a troubled person and refer them to help. 2) Dedicated high school youth received the support they needed to take a small peer-to-peer student training and education program statewide. 3) And a broad-reaching 12-week media campaign pointed listeners, viewers and browsers to life-saving information on a Careline hotline and at stopsuicidealaska.org.
AN UNEXPECTED BONUS
Sponsor, GCI, found the campaign's goal was too important to see it sunset. Instead, they made a 5-year financial commitment to the cause and are continuing their own suicide prevention work.
“Spawn showed a lot of energy and compassion around the difficult topic of suicide prevention. Listening carefully to experts, they quickly pinpointed a message that made it not only “ok” but essential to openly talk about and show concern and support to friends and family who are suicidal. We could not have created a statewide campaign of this magnitude without our volunteers, including the team at Spawn.”
Anchorage Rotary Club President
Public Relations Society of America - Alaska Chapter
First Place, Public Service