National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith
joined with Army Secretary John McHugh, his cochair at the National Action
Alliance for Suicide Prevention, in Washington Monday to unveil a revamped suicide prevention
strategy including a new public service campaign, Side by Side, to
emphasize the role family and friends can play in supporting vets and others in
That strategy includes a multiplatform approach: a suicide
prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255, press 1); a website, veteranscrisisline.net;
and a text message (838255). It also includes trying to de-stigmatize
health-seeking behavior in the workplace.
"Nothing is more critical to our success than
communication," said McHugh, who thanked Smith for helping put a human
face on the crisis, and said that he strived to have a "small part"
of the passion Smith had shown in trying to make a difference and put a human
face on statistics. Smith lost a child to suicide and has since worked to help
remove the stigma from mental illness.
NAB will make the spots available to all its members, TV and
radio, though it will be up to each station to decide about carriage.
"We're optimistic that many stations will carry these," said an NAB
This past June, NAB
honored Glenn Close with the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership
Award for her fight against discrimination and stigmatization of mental
illness through her Bring Change 2 Mind campaign.
Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General, said Monday that more than 33,000 people died from suicide each year between 2001 and 2009, or more than one person every 15 minutes, and that it is "time
to turn the conversation to prevention" and intervention, including
"fostering public dialog," and reducing shame, prejudice and silence.