A Healthier Wisconsin

Effects of Mass Communication on Veteran Suicide Prevention

Testing and monitoring the impact of message campaigns in helping to prevent Veteran suicide in Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Effect of Mass Communication on Veteran Suicide Prevention: Help seeking & firearm safety behaviorsPrimary Community Organization:War Memorial CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Bertrand D. Berger, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$359,173.00
Award Date
Project Duration:24 months

Project Description Narrative:

The suicide rate among Wisconsin Veterans is significantly higher than the national Veteran suicide rate, national suicide rate, and the Wisconsin suicide rate. The unique experiences that Veterans go through make them a population worth extra consideration for developing effective suicide prevention. In terms of suicide risk factors, Veterans who die by suicide are more likely than non-Veterans to have firearms, health complications, and family member deaths to be involved.

Through this award, project partners aim to understand the impact that mass communication may have on the prevention of Veteran suicide, studying effective messaging and campaigns in order to prevent Veteran suicide in Wisconsin.

Community partners: VA Medical Center, UW-Milwaukee, Gun Shop Project of Wisconsin, State of Wisconsin, VA/MCW Peer Outreach Program, Veteran Mental Health Advocacy Council

Academic partners: MCW Comprehensive Injury Center

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Developed, tested, launched, and evaluated a full cycle of advertising following multiple focus groups to test proposed messaging and refine messaging based on focus group feedback
  • Deployed campaign through a number of media outlets, including Spectrum News One, Bally Sports, and radio stations throughout Wisconsin including WISN, WOKY, WRNW, and WLUM
  • Analyzed data from a total of 800 surveys, including comparing the analysis of baseline survey andinitial follow-up panel survey data;initial results indicate increased engagement with the campaign material
  • Abstracts accepted for presentations at the 2022 Prevent Suicide Wisconsin conference and the 2022 American Association of Suicidology conference

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