With three classmates, I developed a public relations plan for University Health Services with recommendations on how to combat suicide on a college campus. We presented the plan to a representative from University Health Services.
Talking about suicide is one of the most important conversations nobody ever wants to have. For someone to come to grips with a thought so heavy as suicide shows they might have been dealing with horrific thoughts for some time and have now come to their final nightmare. Because society stigmatizes suicide and the accompanying emotional struggles, requiring us to ignore how we feel and instead telling us how we should feel, we must establish a certain level of trust for students to open up about these thoughts.
Our initiative in this campaign is to destroy such a stigma and attempt to normalize help-seeking behavior. We also want to increase awareness of CMHC’s Suicide Prevention Program because students understanding that an organization like this exists to help them could make all the difference.
Our primary target for this campaign is students who are new to campus, including freshman, transfer and graduate students. By targeting these groups, we will not ignore new students, and eventually, all students at the University of Texas at Austin will know CMHC’s Suicide Prevention Program.
We have identified three main themes through our research: Everyone’s story is unique; there is a stigma associated with asking for help in dealing with harmful thoughts and behaviors; and college students do not believe there are resources in place to help them during hard times. By weaving a metaphor of story and literature throughout our campaign, we want to tell our students they can rewrite their stories in the hopes that they believe they will find sanctuary in this association.
To execute our campaign, we will utilize on-campus assets such as TV message boards and available kiosks for posters and digital signs. We will also create bookmarks to be handed out at bookstores, and we will also place our messaging at choice spots in the Perry Castaneda Library.
By encouraging students to rewrite their story, we hope to make them think on the fact that this is only one chapter in their lives–an important and impressionable one. To rewrite their story is to see the greener side; it is to believe that they are their own greatest source of power when it comes to moving forward. As Mark Twain said, “Life goes on.” The University of Texas cares about their students, and all the good CMHC does actively reinforces that.