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Suicide Prevention Campaign: First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.

Devastating headlines have been shining a light on a terrible reality for many first responder families. We were shocked to learn that despite their selfless dedication, our first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. When we asked our agency if anyone was ready to use their creative passion to create change, their first response was yes – now.

Today, on #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, after months of research, passionate creative development and strategic collaboration, we are launching “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

Why did we partner with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay on this campaign?

“Our team had the energy and extreme passion to put behind this cause, so I contacted the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay to see how we could support the already excellent, life-saving work they do in our community. With a husband as a Lieutenant in the Fire Department, I know too well the traumatic, terrible reality first responders face putting their lives on the line to save us every day.

We didn’t want to just submit an idea, we wanted to fully launch a strategic campaign that would connect to audiences and raise awareness through advertising and communications. In marketing, raising awareness is one thing, but breaking a stigma and helping save lives is an extremely challenging, beautiful opportunity that we are not taking lightly. Although we are hopeful for community-wide change, even if just one person is moved to get help, we have made an incredible difference.”

– Colleen Chappell, President and CEO

How did we approach campaign development with such a sensitive topic?

“Our process was to understand before we did anything. We toured the Crisis Center, learned about everything they do, spoke to the people who answer the phones, and heard stories about their experiences. We also spoke to first responders, read stories written by them, and even had them look at our ideas to better understand what was resonating most with them. This is such a delicate and complicated topic. We knew we had to get the message just right or risk making it look like we were completely out-of-touch with the realities of the issue. We questioned everything from tiny details in the visuals to seemingly inconsequential words in our messaging.

I married into a family of active and retired first responders, and I know that this issue has hit close to home for some of them over the years. It’s an issue I care deeply about, and I was proud to have an opportunity to directly influence positive change around something like this.”

– Charlie Militello, Associate Creative Director

What inspired “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help?”

“Across the nation and here in Florida, first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Bearing witness to hundreds of traumatic incidents during their careers, these men and women are always the first to respond and often the last to ask for help. This campaign shows that the situations they are put in every day are extreme, and that there are people that can help.

When one of the first responders came in for their photo shoot, we showed them the poster designs. This person took one look, pointed at the headline “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” and said, ‘That’s it. That’s it right there. That’s exactly it.’ It felt good to hear that this campaign was hitting the mark. It was incredible to see everyone from Chad Chronister, to a man who just became a first-responder a few months ago, come out and quite literally volunteer to be the face of this message.”

– Curtis Elliott, Senior Art Director

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