Does a TV Public Service Advertisement Campaign for Suicide Prevention Really Work?: A Case From South Korea

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Background: One of the critical measures in suicide prevention is promoting public awareness of crisis hotline numbers so that individuals can more readily seek help in a time of crisis. Although public service advertisements (PSA) may be effective in raising the rates of both awareness and use of a suicide hotline, few investigations have been performed regarding their effectiveness in South Korea, where the suicide rate is the highest among OECD countries. Aims: The goal of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a television PSA campaign. Method: We analyzed a database of crisis phone calls compiled by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare to track changes in call volume to a crisis hotline that was promoted in a TV campaign. We compared daily call counts for three periods of equal length: before, during, and after the campaign. Results: The number of crisis calls during the campaign was about 1.6 times greater than the number before or after the campaign. Relative to the number of suicide-related calls in the previous year, the number of calls during the campaign period surged, displaying a noticeable increase. Conclusion: The findings confirmed that this campaign had a positive impact on call volume to the suicide hotline.

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