CAMH says its time to talk about suicide prevention

With a mix of hope and urgency, the hospital releases its first campaign focused on what has become a more timely subject.
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has launched its first campaign focused on suicide prevention to show why its fundraising efforts and research are important now more than ever.

“We needed to be able to talk about worst case scenarios that almost everybody has [had] an experience with facing,” says Sarah Chamberlin, VP of marketing and donor experience at the CAMH Foundation. “And this conversation is extremely timely.”

According to the Government of Canada, suicide is the ninth-leading cause of death in the country. Related factors, like depression and anxiety, have reportedly been on the rise in recent months due to social and physical restrictions brought on by the pandemic, exacerbating the state of Canadians’ mental health. Money raised through the campaign will go towards funding CAMH’s research, which includes suicide prevention, but also related mental health issues.

Two pieces of creative are leading this year’s fundraising push, both of which are focused on the idea of time. The first shows a man, alone at a table, as friends, families and CAMH staff appear with words of support, conveying that changes in treatment and society are on the way.

The second is more focused on communicating the serious need for donations: the world loses one person to suicide every 40 seconds, and 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada every year, with at least seven to ten friends and loved ones deeply affected by each death. “These are the stats. And it’s time we change them” the ad concludes.

The campaign launched today, which is World Suicide Prevention Day.

“Mental illness, in its worst case, is fatal – which is something that there is a huge amount of stigma around, still,” says Chamberlin. “[The campaign] allows us to talk about the fact that suicide and mental illness affects demographics across the board. Everybody is affected by it.”

Chamberlin notes how the statistics for people in marginalized communities affected by suicide are “even more harrowing,” as the suicide rate for Indigenous male youth is 126 per 100,000, and 35 per 100,000 for women. Over the course of an 18-month consultation process, CAMH received input on the campaign from Indigenous and LGBTQ+ groups on things like the appropriate language to use when discussing suicide, ensuring the brand was sending a “hopeful message” through the campaign.

An argument can be made that mental health, as a form of healthcare, is underfunded, an issue CAMH has previously tackled. According to Chamberlin, mental illness accounts for about 10% of the “burden of disease” in Ontario, but receives 7% of healthcare dollars – creating an estimated annual deficit of $1.5 billion. Donations from the public are the only way to “make up the difference and continue to move the dial on change.”

As part of the campaign, CAMH created a microsite with resources such as appropriate language to use when discussing suicide, as well as detailing where donations go.

The campaign will appear on TV and in print, with paid digital and social. Camp Jefferson led creative, with Jungle handling media.