Doerner, Jill, K

Advisor Department

Sociology and Anthropology


Tavitian, Mark, L

Advisor Department





Speak Up, Reach Out is a suicide education and prevention plan that is intended to shine a light on the reality of suicide in order for students, parents and teachers to better detect and prevent suicide completions. I was inspired to conduct research about this topic when it was brought to my attention that schools, as well as parents, across the country are not doing enough to educate their children on suicide or mental health, despite its inevitable presence in television watched at home, music heard on the radio and literature being assigned in the classroom. I hypothesized that this was due to a lack of education and certainty in regards to how to bring up such a potentially uncomfortable discussion and not due to lack of concern for the well-being of their loved ones.

Following the release of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why, there has been a significant spike in the number of suicide-related searches online over the last year. This surge in searches suggests that people are looking for answers to questions that get raised from exposure to media portrayals of suicide. I have combined several aspects of research ranging from scholarly articles from experts on suicidology, to implications of media portrayals of suicide and condensed them into a direct, yet comprehensible, powerpoint presentation in hopes to answer some of the questions asked by the general public. In addition to educating the lay population on the truths and warning signs of suicidal ideations, I provide a wide variety of contacts to support options that go beyond the scope of my powerpoint. This project serves as a stepping stone for individuals to take action in the battle against mental health disorders that impacts such a large portion of the world’s population both directly and indirectly.

I have worked towards my Bachelors Degree in Psychology over the last four years here at the University of Rhode Island because I have a passion for helping others in any way that I can. One way to help people long after I have graduated is to make this powerpoint accessible to all incoming freshman as they enroll in URI 101 as well as the faculty members who believe in going one step further to ensure the success and safety of their students. Initiating a discussion addressing the reality of suicide has the ability to deter someone from following through with a suicide attempt and the best way to facilitate a discussion is to get the facts. My hope is that this powerpoint will be viewed by someone who is either struggling to maintain good mental health, or knows someone who is, and that they will feel better equipped with the knowledge and confidence to reach out to them. After I had the chance to present my poster and discuss my findings to a variety of faculty members and parents at the poster session, I feel confident that this project has the power to do just that.


Suicide; Suicide Prevention; Mental Health; Suicide in Media; Suicidology


Suicide is a caliginous topic that can be found in the headline of a magazine or in a passionate scene in a movie, but rarely is it discussed head-on due to a general discomfort and lack of knowledge. It is not a glamourous act of revenge or a testament of devotion, it is a final decision made by an individual that will, without a shadow of a doubt, intimately impact the lives of those around them as they long for answers to the questions that begin with “what if…”. The idea behind Speak Up, Reach Out is to provide members of a community with the knowledge needed to intervene in suicide completions while promoting camaraderie and unity in the pursuit to restore mental health. Through the analysis of mainstream movies, television shows, and music, in partnership with a consolidation of mental health articles from experts on suicidology, I have assembled a suicide education and prevention presentation targeted towards teenagers, young adults, parents and faculty members. The intent of this presentation is to clarify what suicide is and what it is not, dispense relevant statistics to debunk misconceptions about suicidal ideations, list warning signs and symptoms of suicidal activity, suggest proven prevention strategies, in addition to providing contact information to mental health resources for individuals, their students and their loved ones. It is essential that teens and young adults be aware that they are never alone regardless of where or who they are. In order to remind students and faculty at the University of Rhode Island of the resources available to them on campus for maintaining good mental health, this presentation has been added to the URI101 website as a tool for current and future generations to come.

Included in

Psychology Commons