Suicide Prevention Public Service Announcements: Recall Biases Associated with Increased Risk for Suicide

Andrea Wiglesworth, Josephine P. Abate, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Suicide prevention public service announcements (PSAs) help to disseminate information about suicide and help-seeking options. However, little is known about how individuals at risk for suicide recall PSAs. Aims: The current project assessed which features of suicide prevention PSAs are recalled by young adult participants and whether there are differences between those who are at low or high risk for suicide. Method: Participants (N = 140) viewed a simulated suicide prevention billboard that consisted of a main message, help-seeking message, and graphical features. Participants provided written recollections of the billboard features approximately 15 min post-viewing, which were coded and analyzed. Results: High-risk participants were significantly less likely than low-risk participants to include a description of the help-seeking message in their written recall. Few group differences were noted in the recall of the main message or graphical features. Limitations: Recall was limited to short-term recall based on a single exposure. Efforts to enhance internal validity (e.g., measurement of suicide risk) and external validity (e.g., a balanced sample regarding sex and race) are recommended. Conclusions: Results suggest that new tactics may need to be considered when developing suicide prevention messages, including crafting help-seeking messages that are more easily committed to memory for target audiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-454
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Hogrefe Publishing GmbH. All rights reserved.


  • help-seeking
  • public service announcements (PSAs)
  • recall
  • suicide prevention
  • young adults

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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