Suicide Prevention

Suicide: A Global, Local Crisis

This post is part of a month-long series on suicide, written by friends of Sam Fiorella, and dedicated to his son Lucas, who was lost to suicide earlier this year. You can read his story here.

The reality and pain of suicide (or severe depression) is something most everyone will encounter at some point in their lives. It can take the media by storm, when it involves a celebrity or famous person. But more often it’s the childhood friend who never made it to graduation. Or the colleague whose inner pain was too much to bear, despite the cheerful smile around the office. Or perhaps it hits closer to home — a family member or relative you thought you understood a bit better than you did. Suicide is all too common.

IT’S A GLOBAL ISSUE THAT STRIKES LOCALLY

The World Health Organization has published some staggering data on the global suicide problem:

It Strikes Often
Every 40 seconds, somebody dies by suicide somewhere in the world (source: WHO Suicide Prevention Report, 2014).

It’s a Global Concern
Globally, suicide accounts for 1.4% of all deaths, making it the 15th leading cause of death worldwide, ahead of SIDS, Cancer (of the liver, stomach or colon), and Alzheimer’s disease (Source: World Health Report, WHO, 2003 and Disease and Mortality Estimates, WHO, 2012 [xls]).

That Strikes Locally
Suicide is the 2nd most common cause of death among 15-29yr olds (source: Suicide Prevention Overview, WHO, 2014), and when it strikes (at any age), the impact on a family or community can be devastating.

We might like to think that in the US and Canada we’re a bit insulated, as 75% of all suicides occur in low- and middle-income nations. But we aren’t. We rank 33rd and 34th respectively on the global map.

Our suicide rates are higher – in some cases over 10x higher – than over half the world’s nations, including Germany, United Kingdom, Cuba, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Italy, Venezuela, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (source: Business Insider repub of WHO Suicide Map, 2014).

World Health Organization Suicide Map, 2014

World Health Organization Suicide Map, 2014

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

I’ve lost that close childhood friend. I’ve seen the toll suicide can take on a family. And I’ve wondered aloud what could’ve been done to help that colleague that none of us realized needed help.

But I’ve never been through anything like the loss of a child. It’s unimaginable. It’s frightening. And yet it’s real. It forces us to rethink, and question, what we know about suicide. Thinking we know all the answers, or that it will never happen to us, may make us feel better but it doesn’t even begin to solve the problem.

My own kids range from the early teens to the twenties. I’d like to think I understand everything they are going through, and that they’d come to me with their problems and concerns. But as a parent, I know that’s not always going to be the case. But we can help. For me personally, that means starting (but certainly not stopping) with these steps:

1. Actively Listen
Research shows that many if not most suicide attempts include a cry for help. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it can be nothing more than a whisper or a subtle change in behavior. Listening isn’t always passive. By actively listening, by engaging, interacting and questioning, we can hear and see things we wouldn’t have otherwise. And it doesn’t stop with the person we feel is at risk – talk to their friends, look at their behavior and the behavior of those around them (our friends often react to or amplify our own actions and feelings). Don’t wait for somebody to bring their problem to you, be there when you believe they have a problem.

2. Understand the Crisis
Understanding comes from knowledge. There are many good resources out there designed to help people in need, as well as family members and friends of those in need. Know what factors might put a person at risk. Learn to recognize the warning signs. Be comfortable with the steps you may need to take to help that person in need. The more we know about the causes and cures of depression (and there is no shortage of myths around the topic of suicide), the better prepared we will all be to spot the warning signs before it’s too late.

3. Adapt
Depression and suicide may be personal, but it often takes a larger group effort to understand and deal with the problem, especially when underlying issues can be difficult to spot, let alone accept. There are many varied factors that shape depression, including stress, genetics, mood disorders, substance abuse and biochemical imbalances. We must all be willing to change our own behavior to help those in need. Rather than pointing them in the right direction, walk with them, at their pace, and arrive together.

RESOURCES

Depression and suicide are global crisis that strike locally. Take a moment to think about how you listen for signs that a friend, a colleague or a family member might be at risk. Do you know the real warning signs? Or where to even look? And how will you change your behavior to help them overcome their pain? It’s worth a moment of thought. Perhaps even two. Here are some resources to may help you stay informed and ahead of this crisis. They are a starting point.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US)
SAMSA leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation.
http://www.samhsa.gov/suicide-prevention

Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative (published by the WHO, 2014) [pdf]
An official World Health Organization report outlining the global suicide crisis.
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/131056/1/9789241564779_eng.pdf

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
http: //www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
SPRC is the nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
http://sprc.org

Mayo Clinic Guide to Teen Depression
An in-depth resource to help guide teens and their families through the issue of depression.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/teen-depression/basics/definition/con-20035222

U.S. Surgeon Generals Report: 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention [pdf]
A report of the U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/national-strategy-suicide-prevention/full_report-rev.pdf

Myths about Suicide
A look at the realities of suicide.
http://www.suicide.org/suicide-myths.html

Health.com
15 Myths and Facts about Suicide and Depression
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20507781,00.html

7 Myths about Suicide and 11 Warning Signs of Depression
Savvy Psychologist, Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/mental-health/7-myths-about-suicide
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/prevention/medical-conditions/11-little-known-signs-of-depression

Myths and Misconceptions of Teen Suicide
End Teen Suicide, a Colorado-based program to assist teens in need.
http://www.endteensuicide.org/prevent.html

Features Image “Suicide Safety” courtesy Dark Cloud Silver Moon [original

MexicanFansWorldCup2014

Would you buy KLM a beer?

We live in an era of real-time social brand engagement. When broadcast dies, what do you do? You interact. Engage. Become part of the conversation.

Sports fans (like many) don’t like broadcast. They like excitement.

Does a sports fan want to be spoken to by a brand? No. They want to be equal to the brand.

Would a Fútbol fan sit in a bar for 5 minutes listening to a brand argue why their new ad is the best World Cup ad ever? No. But will they sit in a bar and have the best, all-night, most drawn-out, ugly and ultimately enjoyable on every level of passion imaginable  “discussion” with another fan? Absolutely. It’s what they live for.

To reach fans at the world cup, you have to be a fan. Don’t broadcast, be a fan. Engage.

KLM did.

And got kicked out of the bar. Welcome to the World Cup.

I’d buy them a beer. A Dos Equis.

KLM vs Gael Garcia Bernal

Featured Image by Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports. 

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5 Thoughts from CRM Evolution 2013

I spent some at CRM Evolution 2013 last week doing something I really enjoy – getting out and talking to people. If you want to find out what’s going, you have to talk to people who are living it. This was a solid show, with SpeechTEK, CRM Evolution, and Customer Service Experience all sharing the same venue (attracting a rich base of attendees and providing a rich perspective on the Customer Experience – #CX – market).  Here are some quick take-aways from my conversations with vendors, users, investors and even the occasional analyst at the event. Continue reading

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Kickstarter: The long-tail of short attention spans?

We live in a world of short attention spans. Our food is fast, our entertainment on-demand and the phrase “interrupt-driven” dominates everything. 

The world of media and entertainment is no different from any other. We consume in bites, when we want, as we want. My kids don’t watch a TV show every week for a season, they watch a season of episodes in a week.

On-demand. Continue reading

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FIRST GLANCE: Coca-Cola gets “buzz”

Coca-Cola’s disclosure that it found limited short-term value from online buzz raises some good questions about information perception and the relative value of Real-Time-Marketing (RTM).

Takeaway: RTM (Real-Time-Marketing) isn’t about 15 minutes of fame – it needs to be part of an integrated long-term brand communications strategy. Continue reading

Long Beach Brands and Broken Narratives

Of Brands and Broken Narratives

An organization’s brand is defined by the totality of everything they do and say. Enduring brands are built on solid corporate narratives that serve as a beacon of trust and yield positive public perception.


This article was originally published on “Sensei Blogs – A Business Blog with a Point of View” and is reprinted here with permission.

A colleague recently asked me to take a quick look at a firm he had run across. Let’s call them BizCo. They had been around for years, many of them as a strong market leader. But they now faced a fundamentally different market than they had previously, and they were struggling. New competitors, technologies and pervasive media were also rapidly redefining their market and consumer needs.

Long Beach Brands and Broken Narratives

A COMPELLING ORIGIN

BizCo had both history and a compelling story. Their origins came out of a very basic human need, and the founder’s goal to help enrich the lives of others came through very clear in every aspect of the firm.  This “essence” had helped shape a strong corporate narrative. Or at least it once did.

A BROKEN NARRATIVE

A firm’s corporate narrative is the totality of everything they do and say, all their actions in both analog and digital worlds. This includes marketing, public relations, customer relations, and even their corporate actions, human resources, products and services. All are individual messages of a sort that when combined form a greater narrative that tells the story of the firm.

Unfortunately for BizCo, their individual messages now appeared disjointed, opportunistic and somewhat less than compelling. They were mostly advertising products in a one-off fashion with limited continuity that rarely hinted at the original ideals that shaped its founders vision. Their outward message was wandering, and their corporate narrative broken. Fixable, but broken.

FROM WELCOME TO DISTRESS

Messages that are random, disjointed or unclear can easily be misinterpreted either individually or collectively if they lack context or order.  In an age of pervasive media, even well planned messages can fall victim. We may hear individual concepts, but not be able to put them together in a meaningful way. We get confused. And confusion is never good for a brand.

With BizCo, individual messages were targeted but did not reflect the essence of the firm. The result was not a welcoming message as intended but rather a perceived message of disorganization or distress. And from a consumer perspective, messages of distress are often perceived as warnings: Stay away.

WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE

As your business evolves over time it’s only natural for the narrative to change along with product and customer needs. But if you only write random chapters, or chapters that simply don’t fit, you’re not enriching or extending your narrative. What you think may be positive steps could translate into a message of distress, and very few people are willing to buy from a firm in distress.

Is your message one of welcome or one of distress and danger?

When you look at your own company, are you writing a long-term story, or a series of short-form articles? Are you letting your inner essence focus your business decisions, or are you looking for opportunistic quick hits? Do your various messages across different mediums have a consistent theme, and are they true to the vision of your firm?

If you are unsure of your answers, take a moment to reflect and reconnect with your inner essence. Your corporate narrative will thank you.

Image “Long Beach 1933” by California Watch, Licensed under Creative Commons

trust_sxsw2013

TRUST: Designing Social Glue #SXSW2013

I had the opportunity to speak at a #sxsw interactive session in Austin, TX (“Why trust is the new social glue” – March 11, 2013). I used the following short presentation as a framework for discussing trust points, trust enablers and how story and narrative can can be used to foster trust in a digital community (the issues around creating a trusted user experience).

As part of the session, we divided the ballroom at the Driskill Hotel into groups, each group evaluating the examples at the end of the presentation to collectively identify trust points (or the lack of) and discuss why or why not a particular piece of content demonstrated trust. Each group then shared (and debated) their opinions on the examples. The diversity of the group led to some very good, and far reaching, discussions, including how we evaluate and form a position of trust for brands and products and the role of culture and community in shaping our interpretation of trust markers.

I hope you enjoy the presentation as much as I enjoyed working through it at the session.

MMline2

Maker’s Mark misses the mark…

English: Maker's Mark production line, just af...

Maker’s Mark production line, just after being dipped in red wax (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a minor tweet about the length of time it takes to char a barrel for making bourbon to a congratulatory tweet from KFC, Maker’s Mark missed the mark with an expansion strategy that was counter to both the essence of their brand and their loyal consumer’s expectations.

The following Storify transcript highlights selected social media activity and mentions following the Maker’s Mark announcement that they would be slightly diluting the brand’s signature bourboun in an effort to meet rising demand.

(Note: Some date sequences have been adjusted to highlight flows of conversations and threaded discussions)


From a minor tweet about the length of time it takes to char a barrel for making bourbon to a congratulatory tweet from KFC… How Maker’s Mark missed the mark with their brand strategy. (Note: Date sequences have been adjusted to highlight flows of conversations and threaded discussions)

From a minor tweet about the length of time it takes to char a barrel for making bourbon to a congratulatory tweet from KFC… How Maker’s Mark missed the mark with their brand strategy. (Note: Date sequences have been adjusted to highlight flows of conversations and threaded discussions)

From a minor tweet about the length of time it takes to char a barrel for making bourbon to a congratulatory tweet from KFC… How Maker’s Mark missed the mark with their brand strategy. (Note: Date sequences have been adjusted to highlight flows of conversations and threaded discussions)

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analysis – innovation – execution