In Nevada, one in four high school students contemplate taking their own life. To raise awareness, Washoe County has created a suicide prevention campaign which is airing public service announcements (PSAs) in local movie theaters.
One of the videos shows a silhouette of a middle aged person who’s watching a reel of life moments on a large screen. Each scene depicts different life achievements, like graduating college, or becoming a parent.
The video is meant for anyone who may be going through a hard time.
Chris Ciarlo, who works for the Human Services Agency of Washoe County, wrote the PSA.
“I was bullied as a child and felt like some days, ‘Maybe it’s best if I'm not here’ and so that's where I think I was able to tap into that part of my brain,” Ciarlo said. “Being an elementary kid and going through bouts of depression as a teenager, I don't know that without those experiences I would have been able to write this as effectively.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Nevada among young people between the ages of 10 and 24. That’s why Ciarlo and his team chose to screen the PSAs at the movies.
"What we know is that more than 90% of teenagers watch a movie at a theater every year.” Ciarlo says. “It's not just the teenagers that we're trying to reach. We all have somebody who has thought about suicde in our life, if it's not us ourselves.”
Ryan Gustafson is the child services director for the agency. He says it’s important people debunk the misconception that talking about suicide will increase or encourage self-harming thoughts. Instead Gustafson encourages people to have those difficult conversations.
“A lot of it is opening the door. It’s removing that stigma and making people more comfortable with it,” Gustafson said. “When you are comfortable talking about it and having those conversations and not feeling like it's a negative thing, or a scary thing or a fearful thing, that's really the first step.”
The agency has partnered with the Washoe County Health District, Safe Voice Nevada and the Washoe County Medical Examiner's office to broadcast the PSA through June at Galaxy Movie theaters.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.