Building a Movement to Raise Awareness
From social media to print and TV news media, entertainment platforms and podcasts, AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through campaigns and messaging throughout the year. Building awareness and providing practical guidance and understanding, AFSP elevates our society’s understanding of how we all have a role to play in preventing suicide and supporting loss survivors, during moments of crisis as well as in our everyday lives.
Shining a Light Through the Talk Away the Dark Campaign
For Mental Health Awareness Month this past May, we shifted the cultural narrative around suicide with the debut of our Talk Away the Dark campaign, which encourages a wide audience ranging from 26 to 70 years old, to bring suicide out of the shadows. Created with the help of an internal team of content advisors and Dr. Madelyn Gould, a renowned expert on suicide contagion and safe messaging, the focal point of the campaign is a national PSA produced in partnership with TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, that depicts a daughter having a series of brave conversations with her father.
Through the microsite, talkawaythedark.afsp.org, visitors are able to watch the PSA; learn about risk factors, warning signs, and how to confidently talk about suicide with conversation starters and #RealConvo guides; and connect to important resources offered in both English and Spanish. Visitors shared graphics and videos, helping to spread the word about #TalkAwaytheDark.
AFSP has relationships with social media platforms including Meta, TikTok, Snap, YouTube, and LinkedIn. On social media, we worked with 13 popular influencers and partners to help widen the reach of Talk Away the Dark, including licensed therapist Kier Gaines, author and swimmer Schuyler Bailar, Diné scholar and educator charlie amáyá scott, trauma-informed somatic and sound healer Kim Saira, and comedian Gary Gulman. An Instagram Live panel featured influencers Kier Gaines and Kim Saira discussing what the phrase “Talk Away the Dark” means to them.
Media coverage highlights included a segment on NBC News NOW featuring AFSP Chief Medical Officer Christine Yu Moutier, a CNN article also featuring Dr. Moutier, and a PR Week article quoting AFSP Chief Communications Officer Stephanie Rogers, as well as nine articles highlighting four different AFSP volunteers.
The campaign extended into National Suicide Prevention Month in September, when we highlighted six ways to take action, such as joining a local chapter, attending a local event, getting involved in advocacy and education efforts, and more. Our September social media content across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok resulted in:
Media coverage nearly doubled in September, leading to 16 articles, four of which were in Spanish. Highlights included a WKRN segment with Tennessee chapter volunteer Paul Augustyniak, a CNN Health article quoting Dr. Moutier, and an Essence article featuring Greater Central New York Chapter volunteer Maggie Henry.
Sending a Message Through Storytelling and Entertainment
The stories we tell and the songs we sing have the power to change – and even save – lives. This year we built on our partnerships within the world of entertainment, providing evidence-informed consultation on how to safely handle the topic of suicide, working with Paramount/MTV, Viacom/CBS, NBC/Universal, Comedy Central, Hulu, United Artists, “NPR Marketplace,” and “This American Life.” AFSP also provided literary guidance this year, consulting on the bestselling novel Whalefall by Daniel Kraus, and the graphic novel horror miniseries A Haunted Girl.
Music also played a large role in our efforts. Audacy’s 10th Annual We Can Survive concert, featuring a star-studded lineup including Maroon 5, OneRepublic and Kelly Clarkson, spread positive messaging and raised more than $600,000 for AFSP. In the latest PSA from our Seize the Awkward campaign with The Jed Foundation, the Ad Council and Droga5, Grammy-winning superstar Megan Thee Stallion encouraged young adults to check in on their friends.
We further built on our work with the music industry, providing guidance for Everclear’s music video for the song “Sing Away,” about bullying and suicide. We also collaborated with rock band Papa Roach, devising a dramatic speech in their tour which roused audience members to hold their phone lights up for the song “Leave a Light On,” which encourages listeners to be there for those who struggle. The moment received such a rapturous response that the band released the song as a single, renaming it “Leave a Light On (Talk Away the Dark),” and donating over $150,000 in proceeds from the tour and the song to AFSP.
We Can Be (Super) Heroes
Filmmakers Zack Snyder and his wife Deborah Johnson lost their daughter Autumn to suicide in 2017. In her honor, and thanks to the Snyders and their passionate fan base who realize suicide is something we all need to play a role in preventing, AFSP has been the recipient of funds totaling over $1M. A special event in April, Full Circle: A Special Three-Day Celebration of the Snyderverse Trilogy, featured guests including The Batman himself, Ben Affleck, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher, Justice League screenwriter Chris Terrio, and VFX supervisor DJ DesJardin. The event also featured a panel conversation that included a discussion about mental health, which raised $166,323 and let fans know that when it comes to preventing suicide, we can all be superheroes.