The Dept. of Children and Family counselors from the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board approached the CCSU Central Design instructor-led student design team to develop materials for a suicide prevention campaign, a serious and complex issue that was the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of ten and twenty-four in the state of Connecticut. Using research and peer interviews, the team developed the campaign slogan “Be the one to start the conversation” 1 word 1 voice 1 life, a two-pronged approach aimed at the suicidal individual and the concerned but helpless by-stander. Using the slogan, a discreet pocket-size. five-step guide for identification and prevention of suicide was developed and the five-step format strategy was utilized for various campaign materials such as videos, posters, shirts, and website design. The campaign utilized smart phone QR Code (Quick Response) technology on printed materials for expedience.
Title: Suicide Prevention Campaign
Client: Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board
Design Firm: CCSU Central Design
Design Team: Designers: Leslie Boppert, Jessica Cassettari, Christopher Galo, Kevin Goins, Adrienne Gruessner, Stephen Jones, Brendan Onthank, Joseph Rinaldi, Chad Tower, David Zarovny; Faculty Advisor/Creative Director: Kinga Wlodarska
In previous campaign attempts young people were not willing to accept the traditional materials. The Dept. of Children and Family counselors from the CT-SAB, now have campaign materials, like the mini booklet and website, that when presented to young people can be discreetly saved and reviewed by the person in crisis, without fear of being labeled or judged. The materials utilized QR Code technology to quickly guide the individual to prevention and crisis resources.
Working on the project, the designers grew closer, connecting through in-depth discussions of the sensitive subject matter and raising awareness of the issue. The team was surprised by statistics of suicide within the state as well as their cohort group. This factor motivated the designers to improve the serious situation. The campaign was unveiled with great success at a regional suicide prevention conference for college crisis teams with many communities requesting support materials and presentations.
The CT-SAB did not have much funds for developing the suicide prevention campaign and were grateful for the resource of the innovative minds of the CCSU Central Design team. The exercise of researching and developing the solution for the campaign was a great real-life learning experience for the young designers.
In the past, traditional pamphlets and handouts were not constructive in delivering the resource information to the young audience and were generally discarded after presentations. The campaign needed a different approach with the development of the new slogan “Be the one to start the conversation” being both appropriate for suicidal individuals and the concerned by-standers, as well as the new design of discrete materials utilizing expedient technology for crisis prevention.
Seeking to reduce suicide in the state of Connecticut, the second leading cause of death for college students and the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of ten and twenty-four, the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board was formed by a group of advocates interested in tackling the issue of suicide prevention, intervention, and encouraging health and wellness. The CT-SAB recognizing that their current materials were dated and ineffectual, asked the CCSU student design group Central Design to develop materials to approach fellow peers dealing with the difficult situation of considering attempting suicide or knowing someone who is in crisis. Central Design team members drew from research by the team of therapists from DCF (Dept. of Children and Family), and interviews with fellow college students. As class instructor I directed the team to dissect the problem to fully understand the serious and complex issue of suicide and guided the student designers to extrapolate a strategy for the suicide prevention campaign.
The design team developed the campaign slogan “Be the one to start the conversation” 1 word 1 voice 1 life, a two-pronged approach aimed at the suicidal individual and the concerned but helpless by-stander. The solution included a campaign slogan, logo, a non gender-specific campaign character (Blue), as well as appropriate promotional materials such as mini-booklet. We recognized that young people might fear being labeled by friends, or relatives by carrying around a large pamphlet declaring the subject matter on the cover. Our booklet solution folds into a discreet pocket-size, five-step guide for identification and prevention of suicide. The five-step format was utilized in two animated After Effects videos: one short version for a smart phone application; the longer version to be used on the campaign website. The campaign utilized smart phone QR Code (Quick Response) technology on printed materials for expedience. Additional promotional materials included three posters, t-shirt, and website design.
The campaign is being used to reach out to individuals at-risk throughout the Connecticut college campus community and has been recognized by the National American Association of Suicidology. The response from the CT-SAB and those receiving the social marketing materials has been extremely positive and overwhelming, and has grown into a larger campaign bringing support to youth, college students, and adults in suicide crisis. The students were able to understand the importance of community engagement by harnessing their design skills for the purpose of a socially responsible public service campaign. These complex design problems challenged the students to recognize the significance of age-appropriate context and use critical thinking to employ the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating to reach a conclusion.