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Predicting Intentions to Read Suicide Awareness Stories

The Role of Depression and Characteristics of the Suicidal Role Model

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Abstract.Background: Research on factors that influence the intention to read suicide awareness material is lacking. Aims: To identify how social and state similarities between the featured protagonist of a suicide awareness story and the audience impact on the intent to read similar stories. Method: Laboratory experiment with n = 104 students. Participants were randomly assigned to study groups. In the first group, the role model provided his personal story of crisis and was a student. In the second group, the content was identical but the model was socially dissimilar. The third group read about a topic unrelated to suicide. Depression, identification, and exposure intent were measured after the experiment. Conditional process analysis was carried out. Results: In the group featuring a once-suicidal role model with high social similarity, depression in the audience increased the intention to read similar material in the future via identification with the role model; 82% of individuals wanted to read similar material in the future, but only 50% wanted to do so in the group featuring a dissimilar person. Conclusion: Exposure intention increases via identification when role model and audience characteristics align regarding social traits and the experience of depression. These factors are relevant when developing campaigns targeting individuals with stories of recovery.