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Are We Pissing In The Wind?

DV SpookyCat      Monday, February 25, 2019

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     Before I go any further, this is not a debate about whether veteran suicide is an epidemic or whether community resources are adequate. The official numbers vary from 20 to 22 active duty and veterans kill themselves every day. The reports omit drug overdoses and inconclusive deaths. Reporting also depends on the state and the nature of the person’s discharge. How the number is calculated is based on a sampling, then multiplied for the whole populace. So, let’s all agree that it’s disproportionately higher among our ranks than the national average, and as veterans, we would rather not see each other dead. Yeah? Cool.

     So… Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen or been party to an awareness campaign via a Facebook page, group, or community event. They are catchy, gimmicky, solemn, funny, and a zillion other adjectives. But do they work?

     The science says that there are four stages to any awareness campaign. Stage one is the most self-explanatory. “Awareness” At this point someone can see that you exist. Stage two is “Interest”. This is when they look a little deeper and learn what you’re about. Maybe they follow your page or share your message. This is generally, where people split off. Some feel limited by time and resources and just stay at this level of interest. Some take your call to action and move on to stage three. Stage three is “Engagement”. This is where the person actively shares your message, responds to your calls, and seeks to become a member or supporter of your organization. The final stage is commitment. This is where they donate funds to your causes, purchase merchandise, and participate in your community events.

     So, if *Veteran* Page is getting 800 people to talk about suicide on their page or sharing an image with the hotline number 2000 times, that’s an example of stage 2 and 3. These people may or may not have known the information given, but they’ve engaged and spread the message to others who may not have known. Now, if *Veteran* Page hosts an event or raises funds, not only will it spread the message, but it will get others to help continue the message, long after the event is over.

     Now, does awareness campaigns prevent suicide? According to the veterans we see commenting and participating in online and real-world events, it does. They’re learning the names of organizations that offer services, connecting to peer to peer support in the groups, and seeing that they’re not alone. That connection and that sense of community is an anchor for so many of us. It keeps some of us here. If you need more proof that they work, turn on your TV. That 18 minutes an hour you spend peeing and smoking, *really quick*… those are awareness campaigns. They wouldn’t drop that much money and effort into interrupting our programming if it didn’t work.

     With all that said, I would encourage you to consider joining us at DVR Thoughts in spreading a little more awareness. Share this article and encourage your stage one friends not to dismiss those annoying and gimmicky events out of hand. You never know who you might help.

 

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Article written by: DV SpookyCat; She doesn't purr but she will tell you if you're an asshole.

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