Year: 2023 Source: JMIR Formative Research. (2023). 7, e49325. doi:10.2196/49325 SIEC No: 20231974
Background: In most countries, men are more likely to die by suicide than women. Adherence to dominant masculine norms, such as being self-reliant, is linked to suicide in men in Western cultures. We created a suicide prevention media campaign, “Boys Do Cry,” designed to challenge the “self-reliance” norm and encourage help-seeking in men. A music video was at the core of the campaign, which was an adapted version of the “Boys Don’t Cry” song from “The Cure.” There is evidence that suicide prevention media campaigns can encourage help-seeking for mental health difficulties. Objective: We aimed to explore the reach, engagement, and themes of discussion prompted by the Boys Do Cry campaign on Twitter. Methods: We used Twitter analytics data to investigate the reach and engagement of the Boys Do Cry campaign, including analyzing the characteristics of tweets posted by the campaign’s hosts. Throughout the campaign and immediately after, we also used Twitter data derived from the Twitter Application Programming Interface to analyze the tweeting patterns of users related to the campaign. In addition, we qualitatively analyzed the content of Boys Do Cry–related tweets during the campaign period. Results: During the campaign, Twitter users saw the tweets posted by the hosts of the campaign a total of 140,650 times and engaged with its content a total of 4477 times. The 10 highest-performing tweets by the campaign hosts involved either a video or an image. Among the 10 highest-performing tweets, the first was one that included the campaign’s core video; the second was a screenshot of the tweet posted by Robert Smith, the lead singer of The Cure, sharing the Boys Do Cry campaign’s video and tagging the campaign’s hosts. In addition, the pattern of Twitter activity for the campaign-related tweets was considerably higher during the campaign than in the immediate postcampaign period, with half of the activity occurring during the first week of the campaign when Robert Smith promoted the campaign. Some of the key topics of discussions prompted by the Boys Do Cry campaign on Twitter involved users supporting the campaign; referencing the original song, band, or lead singer; reiterating the campaign’s messages; and having emotional responses to the campaign. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that a brief media campaign such as Boys Do Cry can achieve good reach and engagement and can prompt discussions on Twitter about masculinity and suicide. Such discussions may lead to greater awareness about the importance of seeking help and providing support to those with mental health difficulties. However, this study suggests that longer, more intensive campaigns may be needed in order to amplify and sustain these results.