PR Pro's Wednesday Wisdom Series: Heather Brown and Monica Alonzo of Mercy Healthcare

Mercy Care’s regional behavioral health authority (RBHA) prevention administrator, Heather Brown, oversees community-based programs and coalitions addressing substance use and suicide.

She provides ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and safeTALK (suicide alertness for everyone) training for subcontracted providers, employees, and community stakeholders. Brown also develops and conducts training and technical assistance on substance use and suicide prevention and community development using the Strategic Prevention Framework Model.

Monica Alonzo is the manager of marketing and communications for Mercy Healthcare.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to name at least 2 “do’s” and 2 “don’ts” for suicide prevention best practice messaging.

  2. Participants will discover the standards for responsible media reporting on suicide.

  3. Participants will be able to cite preferred language and terminology when discussing suicide.

  4. Participants will clearly identify examples of “good” vs. “bad” messaging in existing media.

Discouraged terms in the media:

  1. Commit Suicide

  2. Suicidal "gestures"

  3. Successful suicide

  4. Suicidal behavior

  5. Suicidal person

Encouraged terms in the media:

  1. Die by suicide

  2. Suicided

  3. Attempt

  4. Ideation or Person with thoughts of suicide

  5. Lived experience or Suicide-attempt survivor

Social Media Takeaways:

  1. Adapt to the target audience.

  2. Use capitalization sparingly throughout posts.

  3. Use simple and consistent hashtags.

  4. Promote help-seeking and always provide a resource (local lifeline, social services, support group) for individuals to contact.

Call to Action Recommendations:

  1. Choose the message carefully and conduct a couple of pilot tests for the intended audience.

  2. Always have two to three specific actions for your audience to do.

  3. Include links and phone numbers in the campaign.

  4. Use data to measure effectiveness and constantly monitor the campaign.


  1. National Suicide Prevent Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  2. Central AZ Crisis Line: 602-222-9444 or 1-800-631-1314

  3. Southern Arizona Crisis Line: 1-(866)-495-6735

  4. Teen Lifeline (Statewide): 602-248-8336 or 1-800-631-8336 (TEEN)

  5. Be Connected 24/7 for Veterans: 1-866-4AZ-VETS

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