A researcher at US Oregon State University (OSU) has found that if tailored to specific target groups, suicide prevention messages could be more effective. Elizabeth Marino, assistant professor of Anthropology at OSU Cascades, has worked with her colleagues for two years on a project to identify what kind of messages are more receptive, reports Xinhua news agency.
Their findings, published on Monday in Archives of Suicide Research, address the reality that more than half of the roughly 40,000 people in the US who commit suicide every year do so with a gun, and that only 5 per cent of them survive. To avoid identity politics, Marino’s suggestion is to pay attention to cultural factors in public health messaging.
Marino said that to be effective, public messaging should not be culturally neutral. “Information by itself isn’t changing minds at all,” Marino said, adding “But if the language in the message is sensitive and respects culturally specific values, then people are more open to the information and will maybe change their decisions.”
Acknowledging that the study alone may not change the status quo, as people in the US are politically and culturally divisive, Marino expects that more research of the kind could impact changes.
“It’s especially worth noting that there are in fact joint goals that people with diverse perspectives can talk about and reach consensus on as long as we understand each person’s cultural framework.”