Reasons to love life: Effects of a suicide-awareness campaign on the utilization of a telephone emergency line in Austria
Till, B., Sonneck, G., Baldauf, G., Steiner, E., & Niederkrotenthaler, T.
Background: A suicide awareness campaign was initiated in the Austrian federal state of Styria to increase help-seeking behavior in the population. Billboards were shown throughout Styria depicting joyful everyday-life situations with a focus on social and family connectedness, and promoting the Telephone Emergency Service, a crisis hotline.
Aims: The present study investigated the impact of this campaign on the utilization of the crisis hotline and on suicide rates.
Method: Phone calls and suicide rates in the study region 3 months before the campaign were compared with rates 3 months after the campaign. The changes were contrasted with the characteristics of phone calls and the suicide rate in a comparable control region.
Results: There were significantly more phone calls in the study region after the awareness campaign compared to the control region, which was similar to seasonal trends in nonintervention years, and there was no increase of suicide-related phone calls. The proportion of suicide-related phone calls referring to family problems decreased after the initiation of the campaign. Suicide rates did not change.
Conclusion: The campaign may have had some minor immediate impact on the utilization of the Telephone Emergency Service, but it did not seem to motivate suicidal individuals, especially those with family problems, to call.