A university research scholar in the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine is exploring how the art of theater can promote suicide prevention.
The study, Suicide Prevention Through Theater intervention, uses an applied theater workshop in which characters and stories explore suicide topics like contemplation and aftermath.
“We’re utilizing theater to have a really difficult conversation, and that makes it really accessible,” said April Reich, study creator.
Reich undertook this research after a personal experience with suicide resulted in a passion for suicide prevention.
“Two years ago, my friend took her own life,” she said. “And being both an actor and an arts and medicine practitioner, I’ve always been passionate about using theater for health communication, so it just seemed really appropriate.”
The study aims to help participants become more comfortable talking about suicide, increase prevention awareness and teach participants how to better support their peers. Reich hopes the study will help yield lower suicide rates, and through the lessons on supportive behavior, create a more uplifting social environment.
“HealthStreet’s been really helpful and supportive in helping to develop the study, and I’m very grateful to HealthStreet for providing this partnership and supporting the whole process,” Ariel Reich, study coordinator, said.
“I want to encourage people to feel safe talking about it,” Reich said.
She hosted the first workshop at HealthStreet in March and has another planned in April.
“I’m excited to tweak it and see it grow and strengthen” Reich said.
In addition to providing a location for the first workshop, HealthStreet helped recruit participants for the study.
“HealthStreet’s been really helpful and supportive in helping to develop the study, and I’m very grateful to HealthStreet for providing this partnership and supporting the whole process.”