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Confronting Stigma: The Museum’s Role in Suicide Prevention

Research Thesis by Elizabeth Sailors

The purpose of this case study was to examine suicide and suicide prevention-related museum programs and exhibits in order to understand the ways in which museums could aid in suicide prevention and awareness. Research was guided by two questions: how can museums use programming and exhibits to aid in suicide awareness and prevention; and are museums appropriate places to address topics such as suicide? The research focused on the suicide epidemic, bereavement and the arts, and museums as healing spaces. With a growing body of literature supporting the positive outcomes of museum programs and exhibits on mental health, there seemed a lack of literature on the effects of museum programs and exhibits aimed at suicide prevention and awareness. Data was collected on two suicide awareness-programs and two suicide-related exhibits through document analysis and semi-structured interviews with professionals most closely involved with the program or exhibit at three museum sites. The results of the study suggested that museums were well positioned to aid in suicide prevention and awareness through programming and exhibitions. The primary limitation of this study was the small sample size.


Sailors, E. (2020). Confronting stigma: The museum’s role in suicide prevention (Order No. 28002687). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2437132074). Retrieved from


Museum, Stigma, Suicide, Suicide awareness, Suicide prevention