Basel’s Suicide Prevention Campaign for Young People

Talking about suicide is still often a taboo topic. However, statistics from around the world show that talking about suicide actually helps relieve the stress and prevent it. Therefore, it’s important remove the taboos around suicide to allow these conversations to happen. Especially young people often do not talk about their suicidal thoughts or only talk to their peers, even though they always need adult support. Suicidal thoughts are a common side effect for people in severe psychological crises. It is important to take these alarm signals seriously. In addition, the people affected usually do not want to end their life, but rather their current suffering.

There is evidence that suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts have increased, particularly among young people. Therefore, the Health Department of canton Basel-Stadt will be increasing its commitment to suicide prevention over the next few weeks, with a campaign that focuses on young people. The campaign aims to help remove taboos with a broad awareness campaign and to encourage people to get help if someone has suicidal thoughts. The messages on the campaign posters encourage young people to discuss suspected suicidal thoughts with friends and get adult help. At the same time, they will promote Pro Juventute’s help service that can be reached with the emergency phone number 147.

The campaign was developed by the Education and Health Directorate of canton Zürich, in collaboration with specialists in psychiatry and psychology, and is now being adopted by Basel-Stadt. An independent evaluation showed that the measures had an impact in Zürich and that young people responded well to the campaign. During the month when the campaign ran, 30% more young people in canton Zürich sought help from 147, including people with questions about suicide.

Additionally, since young people spend a lot of time at school, canton Basel-Stadt is also offering schools free training on how to deal with suicidality in young people. The Department of Health modified the brochure “Suizidalität im Jugendalter. Leitfaden für Schulen” (Suicidal behavior in adolescence. Guide for Schools) from the Education and Health Directorate of canton Zürich and now makes it available to Basel-Stadt schools.

In conjunction with the new campaign, artist Martin Steiner will be presenting his travelling exhibit entitled “Leben, was geht! Suizid im Gespräch mit Hinterbliebenen” (Life, what’s up! Suicide in conversation with surviving family and friends) at the KHaus in Basel from February 28 to to March 24. This special exhibit gives the perspective of the bereaved individuals that the suicide victims have left behind.


Do you or does someone close to you have suicidal thoughts? Or have you lost someone to suicide? You can find help here at two main telephone hotlines—if the person answering cannot help you in English, they will connect you to someone who can.

For additional resources, also see our article on help for mental health emergencies at The website for the campaign “Reden kann retten” (in D, F, I) targeted at all age groups offers some information at