Narrative Storytelling for Suicide Prevention: An Example from the Montana Let’s Talk Campaign

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Stigma against suicidal ideation and help-seeking is a significant barrier to prevention. Five groups of two ethnically diverse community theatre programs were formed to analyze differences in Eastern Montana Caucasian and Native American adolescents and young adults’ experiences with stigma about mental illness and mental health treatment that affects help-seeking for suicidal thoughts and experiences. Understanding the cultural bases of experiences of stigma related to mental health treatment for suicide is necessary to create educational programs to reduce stigma and suicide for diverse groups of adolescents and young adults.

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Dr. Sarah N. Keller is a Professor of Communication and Theatre at MSU-Billings. Her research revolves around health communication, narrative education and service learning. She taught previously at Emerson College in Boston and prior to that, worked with Population Communication International, USAID, and Family Health International, to study media interventions for reproductive health. Funding for the suicide prevention project came from Montana INBRE. Keller’s Ph.D. is from the University of North Carolina. She has a master’s in journalism from Columbia and a bachelor’s in social studies from Wesleyan University.