An exploration of barriers to suicide prevention messaging with US veterans
Karras, E., Levandowski, B.A., & McCarten, J.M.
Background: Communication campaigns offer a portable intervention to effectively reach and engage target populations at risk for suicide including US veterans. Few studies have evaluated such efforts, and still fewer have examined factors that contribute to failed suicide prevention messaging. Aims: We aimed to examine characteristics of suicide prevention messages and persuasive processes that may underlie failed communicative intervention with US veterans. Method: Telephone interviews were completed with veterans (N = 33) from June to September 2016 using a semi-structured interview guide. Interview transcripts were coded by the authors with NVivo using a constant comparison analytic strategy. Results: Several reasons emerged for why suicide prevention messaging may fail to produce intended responses among veterans. Participants identified message features (e.g., language, images, messenger) and communication strategies that may diminish campaign effects. Limitations: Findings are not generalizable, are limited to participants who used VA healthcare and were not suicidal, and are subject to several biases. Conclusion: This work provides initial insights into barriers to effective message use with veterans.