In May, 1996, Maine Governor Angus King’s Task Force on Adolescent Suicide and Self-Destructive Behavior published ten recommendations. Many of the recommendations pointed to the need for local communities to raise awareness about the problem of youth suicide in Maine and to provide information on the resources available to those in crisis. In response, The Acadia Hospital created the Speak Out for Kids campaign, a five-year collaborative community based youth wellness and suicide prevention effort.
Campaign goals are to raise awareness about the problem of youth suicide, to provide education regarding warning signs and access to resources for individuals to use if in crisis, and to position The Acadia Hospital as a community advocate for youth wellness.
The following groups and organizations work with the campaign to ensure its success:
• The State of Maine’s Childhood Injury Prevention and Control Program;
• Northeast Crisis Service, a service provided by CHCS which supplies four counties in Maine with crisis intervention services and a toll-free youth crisis hotline;
• Aroostook Medical Center, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, Sebasticook Valley Hospital, and Inland Hospital, all rural hospitals in the northeast region of Maine;
• Over fifty schools in five Maine counties.
• Annual Gun Lock Giveaway (retired after five years);
• Posters and bookcovers distributed to schools (retired after five years);
• A Facts About Youth Suicide brochure;
• Donation of books about adolescent issues to the Bangor Public Library;
• Facts brochure on the World Wide Web (www.acadiahospital.org);
• Acadia Hospital speakers;
• Media coverage and distribution of CDC materials regarding media reporting of suicides to all local media outlets;
• Ongoing communication with school counselors;
• Community Conversations Youth Violence Prevention and Wellness Program.
The campaign has been successful on many levels:
• Over 35 media stories/articles about campaign and youth suicide prevention;
• Approximately 3,500 Fact About Youth Suicide brochures have been distributed;
• Ten Speak Out parent education seminars have been hosted on a variety of child/adolescent issues--Five hundred eighty-eight individuals in five communities have attended;
• Over 8,000 gunlocks have been given away to families in every county in Maine;
• Approximately 100,000 book covers and 5,000 posters have been distributed to over 50 schools in five counties over the past five years;
• The State of Maine purchased and distributed 20,000 posters in 1998/99 to every Maine high school.
In five years the campaign has garnered many awards:
• 1998 Blue Ribbon Winner, Healthcare Assembly;
• 1998 Telly Advertising Award, Television Advertisement;
• 1998 Lamplighter Award, Community Relations/Outreach;
• 2000 Lamplighter Award of Excellence, Gun Lock Giveaway;
• 2000 Maine Healthcare Communications Association Chester
* Award of Excellence, Gunlock Giveaway.