Students create suicide awareness comic to address the stigma of mental health
Published On Sun 7 Oct 2018 by Christina Miller
Students and staff from the University of Dundee have produced a comic to raise awareness of suicide in an attempt to reduce the stigma around mental health.
‘Let’s Talk About Suicide’ will launch on Wednesday 10 October to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
The dynamic storybook deals with a sensitive and under-resourced health issue in an engaging way. The visually driven publication addresses inequality, stereotypes and other factors associated with mental health and suicide. By using the comic style, potential barriers in traditional healthcare communications, such as sight, literacy, and language, are removed.
‘Let’s Talk About Suicide’ was developed as part of a module within the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, with support from the School of Humanities, in order to provide healthcare communications in an innovative way.
Third-year mental health nursing students attended Dundee Comics Creative Space to learn about and create graphic medicine, a broad term for discussing healthcare issues using the comic style, and share their stories around suicide and support. As part of its development, the comic was shared with the Dundee Service Users’ Network and their feedback sought. Chris Murray, Professor of Comic Studies, focused on the literature for the artists, while Grant King, Lecturer in Nursing (Mental Health), assisted from a clinical perspective.
Grant said, “Enabling the students to be the experts by using their own experiences to tell the story was important to us, and the idea developed to deal with trauma, particularly suicide.
“The comic centres around suicide, but actually the main message is simply about talking to people, and the benefits of that. The comic and its stories were created to make it easier for people to talk about suicide and reduce the stigma associated with it. The more we talk about it, the more that stigma is reduced - and the more people will live.”
As well as raising awareness and encouraging discussion of mental health, ‘Let’s Talk About Suicide’ will be used as a teaching and recruitment tool for the University of Dundee, particularly for Arts, Humanities, Nursing and Health Sciences, and promotes the University’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching.
The launch event (which coincides with World Mental Health Day) is open to the public and will include a short programme of speakers. Copies of the comic will be available, as well as the opportunity to hear about other public health projects.