Scottish football clubs back suicide prevention

Fifteen people a week commit suicide in Scotland (most often on a Monday) and three quarters of these are men. Choose Life, an organisation launched by the Scottish Executive in 2002, has the aim of reducing suicides in Scotland by 20 per cent by 2013.

Campaign International Suicide Prevention Awareness Week
Client Choose Life
PR team The Big Partnership
Timescale May-September 2005
Budget Less than £15,000

It has only recently appointed a PR manager and drafted in The Big Partnership to publicise its work.

Objectives
To raise awareness of the 2005 International Suicide Prevention Awareness Week (ISPAW), which ran from 5-11 September.

Strategy and Plan
Three Scottish Premier League football clubs – Aberdeen, Inverness
Caledonian Thistle (pictured) and Livingston – agreed to take part in the production of postcards bearing their club crests and photos of team members, around the theme of 'There's No Substitute For Life'.
The cards included information about how to access suicide prevention services and figures demonstrating the scale of the problem in Scotland.

The campaign was also endorsed by the Scottish Football Association, which led to further cards bearing the Scotland crest and national shirt with the number 12 on the back (to reinforce the 'substitute' message).

Local suicide prevention co-ordinators were also media trained to maximise publicity during ISPAW.

Measurement and Evaluation
There were 85 items of coverage during ISPAW, including pieces on Scottish Television, Grampian Television, BBC Radio Scotland, Real Radio and Saga FM. Full-page features appeared in The Sun, Daily Record, The Scotsman and Sunday Herald. Eighty-five per cent of the coverage mentioned Choose Life and the work being done to prevent suicide in Scotland, while 73 per cent mentioned ISPAW.

Results
The Choose Life website received 40,000 hits in September, when it was launched, and this figure was sustained throughout October without any additional marketing/PR support. In terms of media coverage, the campaign showed a return on investment of 30:1.
The football cards are still in demand from clubs across Scotland. Linda Summerhayes, health reporter on the Edinburgh Evening News, recalls that The Big Partnership 'had everything set up'.
She adds: 'Suicide is a big problem in this area, but everything slotted into place easily. I didn't have to track down any Livingston footballers for quotes, for example. I just contacted the Choose Life campaigner for the region to get her thoughts on the issue.'

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