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Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

Friday, October 21, 2016 3:28 PM | Terry Kerr (Administrator)

October 17, 2016

Dear Pennsylvania School Personnel:

We are extremely pleased to announce the 5th Annual PSA Contest for Youth Suicide Prevention! Our previous contests have been huge successes with powerful and encouraging messages communicated by youth around the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, the 2016 winners were honored at the Harrisburg Senators, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games and had their PSAs displayed on the jumbo monitors for all to see! Additionally, the 2016 winners were invited to speak at a mental health rally in Harrisburg during Capital Day. We’ve even had a 2015 video entry exhibited on an international website focused on youth suicide warning signs. Since youth often impact one another more significantly than many efforts we can make as adults on young lives, the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative (PAYSPI) is once again utilizing this power to engage youth in developing public service announcements focused on suicide awareness and prevention.

Many of you have been focusing on suicide prevention in your school districts lately as a result of the recent Act 71 of 2014 legislation. We have seen over the past four years how students have used this PSA contest to learn more about youth suicide prevention in their planning process, as well as educate their peers through their exceptional work. With national and local rates continuing to slowly rise, more youth than ever are talking about suicide, and we hope that your school will join us in the prevention conversation.

Additionally, this year offers the students an opportunity to create a PSA for a national suicide prevention campaign. Based on research on what people can do to keep others safe, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline created the #BeThe1To campaign. The Lifeline is looking for PSAs which illustrate this messaging. See the rules for submission on our website listed below for more details.

We are seeking your support to disseminate information about this important step to reducing lives lost to youth suicide in your schools. Please share the information with your administrators and then spread the word to students to get involved! The attached flyer contains details about the PSA contest and information on locating the official rules and an entry form. There are a few important details that have direct relevance to your staff:

  • Each school may only submit one entry per category. We encourage you to consider a local challenge within your school to help identify the best submission per category.
  • Each submission must be reviewed by a mentor at the school. This may be a teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse, school administrator, or SAP team coordinator. We simply ask the mentors to provide some guidance on appropriateness of content (there are national media guidelines with links in the official rules), and then sign off on the application once the final product is approved.
  • All submissions must be received by January 6, 2017 to be considered for the statewide contest.
  • Students and the broader public will vote for the winning submission in each category. Voting will happen online from January 27 –February 13, via the PAYSPI website.

All of the details about the contest, including official rules, a downloadable pdf of the flyer, the application form, as well as help with guiding the students in their messaging, are available on our website, www.payspi.org/psa/2017psa. You may also view previous winners by visiting our main page, www.payspi.org/psa.

PAYSPI is a multi-system public-private partnership of individuals representing numerous stakeholders in Pennsylvania focused on reducing suicide in our communities. It consists of clinicians, school personnel, researchers, prevention experts, family members who have lost loved ones to suicide, and representatives from many state Departments and agencies, such as the Department of Education, Department of Health, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We invite you to check out our webpage, www.payspi.org, to learn more about the organization.

We are excited to receive a record number of submissions this year and are eager to see how Pennsylvanian youth use their creativity to once again develop exceptional and powerful messages to help reduce youth suicide in the Commonwealth.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Rose Milani at 215-503-6456 or rose.milani@jefferson.edu.


Matthew B. Wintersteen, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

Pennsylvania Association of Student Assistance Professionals
PO Box 1254
State College, Pennsylvania 16804 

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