McCann Health creative team takes on youth suicide
PARSIPPANY, N.J., Nov. 17, 2016—Inspired by the experience of a colleague who lost a loved one to suicide, a team of volunteers at the healthcare communications company McCann Torre Lazur, a McCann Health Company, has spent the last two years engaging their creative powers to build a powerful call to action for suicide prevention, showing the world that life is worth living.
On Saturday, November 19th from 12 to 3pm, the #worthliving team will take The Orange Project to the streets – or rather Garibaldi Square in Washington Square Park, NYC – and invite the public to write a note and maybe help save a life. Using the orange sticky note as a visual vehicle to speak out for suicide awareness, the team wants to tell those suffering that suicide isn’t the answer. They want to give hope to the girl being bullied, the boy who feels unloved, and other young adults experiencing dark moments. The team will be inviting people to handwrite a note of hope and encouragement for someone who needs it and maybe help save a life.
Now in its 3rd year, the #worthliving team is working with students across the globe to roll out #worthliving: The Orange Project, a youth-driven educational and social media campaign encouraging more open communication about suicide and an understanding of its warning signs. The team hopes to build the largest photo album of handwritten notes from across the globe to raise awareness about suicide prevention in young people and (hopefully) break a Guinness World Record, but the ultimate goal remains the same…to help save a life.
Suicide is among young people is an especially frightening problem – in fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. With this in mind, the team partnered with the Ideas Foundation, a UK-based organization that seeks out and nurtures creatively gifted young people. The Ideas Foundation’s partner schools were offered the opportunity to pitch concepts for the best way to reach their peer group with messaging about suicide. The winning pitch suggested creating “thought notes” – both virtual and actual orange sticky notes – that young people could use to start conversations about suicide and mental health. A web landing page based on this idea and built by the MTL team (worthliving.today) has more information is soft-launching today, with integration to general social media sites coming later in the month.
The #worthliving campaign was initially inspired by the experience of MTL team member Jennifer Dee, whose boyfriend committed suicide in 2013.
“When someone you love commits suicide, there’s no handbook, no rules, no guidance for how to handle it,” Jennifer says. “No one explains how to deal with the guilt or the grief or the questions. Nobody tells you how to sift through the darkness and come out on the other side. For months afterward I didn’t want to do anything but lay in a fetal position for the rest of my life.” But after many months of grieving, Jennifer decided that she needed to take action, to do something to prevent deaths like her boyfriend’s or experiences like hers, to break down the silence and stigma that
surrounds suicide. She had the idea to use social media to ask people to post images and videos showing that life is worth living. And the resources needed to build a campaign were already around her – the creative talent in her own workplace.
“I knew that the agency and my colleagues could help me get this up and running,” Jennifer says. “This is what we do. We are experts in healthcare communications, and it is something we can really sink our teeth into. And literally within minutes of when I pitched the idea, my colleagues at MTL wanted to join in. I had people coming to me saying, ‘I want to be on the team, my aunt killed herself three weeks ago,” or, “How can I help? My grandfather killed himself.” It was extraordinary to me to see how many of us had this connection to suicide, but because of the stigma surrounding it, we just don’t talk about it.” The MTL team’s campaign against suicide began on World Suicide Prevention Day 2014 with the launch of the hashtag #worthliving. Begun that day – September 10th – with a single tweet, #worthliving quickly outstripped the team’s expectations by generating more than 18 million social media impressions around the world, with individuals sharing personal images and comments to show why every day is worth living. The following year, for World Suicide Prevention Day 2015, the MTL team launched #attemptlife, encouraging those who are suffering to share videos of themselves attempting life rather than suicide. The #attemptlife campaign, with support from the International Association for Suicide Prevention, has rolled up more than 10 million social media impressions so far. The goal? To spread hope and ultimately save a life.
McCann Torre Lazur is part of McCann Health (www.mccannhealth.com), the winner of the coveted Network of the Year Award at 2016 Cannes Lions Health Festival. McCann Health is one of the world’s most awarded global healthcare marketing networks and is committed to generating life-changing ideas that improve the health of humanity. McCann Health is part of McCann Worldgroup and The Interpublic Group of Companies.
The mission of the Ideas Foundation is to increase diversity in the creative industries, identify and nurture creatively gifted young people who are not thriving in the education system, and give them skills to gain employment. We work bridging the gap between the creative industries and secondary education. We have worked with over 100 schools (and growing) in the UK to run engaging projects which aim to teach students real skills that can be transferred into the creative industries.
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Press contact: Deborah Zdobinski