Suicide prevention campaign begins

National Office for Suicide Prevention to spend up to €1m on multimedia campaign

Screengrab from the suicide-prevention campaign

The first commercial-scale suicide-prevention communications campaign rolls out this week with Little Things, a multimedia campaign created by Dublin agency Rothco. The Health Service Executive's National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) is to spend up to €1 million on the campaign, which was devised with the assistance of 20 partner organisations in the mental health and suicide prevention sector.

Research for the campaign began in January of this year and, to the HSE's surprise, showed that for this subject people preferred animation to live action. And so for the television treatment three 40- second films were made by animation experts Art & Graft. They tell the personal stories of Úna-Minh Kavanagh, Alan O'Mara and Robert Carley, who provide the voiceovers. The idea is that everyone has a "little thing" that they do to help them through difficult times.

While the target audience is, according to the NOSP "everyone – that old idea that one in four people is affected by mental health issues is wrong: it's four out of four" – the prime targets are, because of suicide statistics, two categories of men: those aged 19 to 25, and those aged 25 to 44; and so a digital media strategy is a key part of the Little Things message, whose media strategy is by Carat.

The Facebook and Twitter side of the campaign will be managed in-house by the NOSP, initially due, it says, to the sensitivity of the subject matter so that mental health experts can respond to and manage the posts.


The HSE’s Quit campaign saw significant Facebook engagement, with about 50,000 people now using the campaign site, some as a community quit-smoking support forum. That campaign is the one the HSE intends to benchmark others on.

The NOSP has persuaded several well-known people to engage with its social media strategy and who will tweet their own “little thing” – including, it says, the Taoiseach who has shown a remarkable reluctance to use Twitter, his last tweet to his 19,200 followers being on July 8th, 2011.