Increasing public awareness of a statewide suicide prevention hotline

Maryland Department of Health

Models of suicide prevention include a range of intervention strategies. Crisis lines are a standard component of an overall public health approach to suicide prevention, providing access to counseling and support and connecting callers to services that can help.

 

In 1990, the state of Maryland launched a statewide youth suicide prevention hotline. Over the decades, the hotline has expanded its focus and impact to better support a wide range of other high-risk groups, including veterans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals; people who are unemployed; and others facing critical challenges. The hotline expanded in 2014 to serve adults with mental health needs and expanded again in 2015 to help people dealing with substance abuse issues. In April 2018, the hotline partnered with 211 to provide Marylanders with an easy-to-remember number to call in crisis situations as well as text and chat features.

SERVICES

research
writing
marketing and promotion strategy
branding
creative direction
graphic design
print communications
digital communications
social media

THE CLIENT

The Maryland Crisis Hotline is a free, statewide suicide prevention hotline that is available seven days a week and 24 hours a day to provide support to people who are contemplating suicide as well as to those who are trying to prevent someone they know from committing suicide. The hotline’s trained counselors also serve callers who are facing a wide range of other crises, such as family and relationship problems, shelter needs, domestic violence, loneliness, depression, and chemical dependency. The hotline is offered by the Maryland Department of Health.

THE PROBLEM

Consistent with the state plan and national initiatives, the Maryland Department of Health’s suicide prevention program had three main goals:

  • Awareness – To increase public awareness of suicide and its risk factors and to advance the understanding that suicide is preventable
  • Intervention – To enhance culturally competent, effective, and accessible community based services and programs
  • Methodology -To advance the science of suicide prevention

 

A key challenge that the department faced was that, despite the evolution of the hotline over the years, many members of the public still believed that the hotline focused only on preventing suicide among young people. As a result, the department wanted to increase public awareness of all of the audiences the hotline serves and all of the resources it provides.

THE SOLUTION

All Things Creative developed a comprehensive marketing campaign for the Maryland Crisis Hotline that included print and digital elements.

THE APPROACH

After close collaboration with the hotline’s internal stakeholders, we began by designing a new logo for the hotline. Mindful of the Department of Health’s marketing goals as well as the sensitivity of the topic, we took great care to select appropriate imagery and messaging.

 

We ultimately created a logo incorporating the image of a gingko leaf. We chose this because the gingko tree has survived for more than 300 million years and is a symbol of survival, hope, and healing.

 

Subsequently, we developed a style guide, color palette, type treatment, and other brand assets for the campaign that we applied across a broad range of marketing collateral, including posters and brochures, designed to increase awareness of the warning signs of suicide and the resources and phone number of the hotline.

 

In addition, we rebranded the hotline’s social media accounts and created ads for social media. The goals of the ads were to educate people to recognize the signs of suicide and to respond to them effectively. Another key goal was to reach specific high-risk groups, including veterans and LGBTQ youth. These groups are disproportionately affected by suicide and have the highest suicide rates but receive the fewest support resources. The Department of Health also wanted to reach strategic partners who specifically support these population segments. We developed a mix of paid and organic content for social media to amplify its message.

THE RESULTS

Through this combination of print collateral and digital campaigns, we were able to develop a solid strategy that increased the awareness and use of the Maryland Crisis Hotline.

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