When the staff at the Eastern Shore Community Service’s Board came up with the idea of putting suicide prevention information and tips on large pizza boxes, they did not realize that they were going to get national attention. The staff distributed the boxes in bundles of 50 to pizza restaurants up and down the Eastern Shore from Cape Charles to Chincoteague Island. The owners and staff at the restaurants were very supportive of the campaign. They all care about their customers and a Suicide Prevention Campaign was near and dear to many restaurant owners and workers. Photos of the boxes showed up on customers’ and restaurants’ Facebook and Instagram feeds.
The Facebook posts from the Ocean Deli in Wallops Island caught the attention of WBOC reporter, Conall Smith. He interviewed Kelly Bulin, Monique Smith and Phyllis Quivers from the Eastern CSB’s Prevention Office and Derick Hale of Ocean Deli and put together a piece on the pizza box campaign. It aired on WBOC-TV and was quickly picked up by other CBS affiliates and media outlets all over the United States. It was even featured as a news item in the United Kingdom.
The ESCSB Prevention Office has received inquiries about the suicide prevention campaign from other CSBs in Virginia and the National Alliance for Metal Illness (NAMI). NAMI has asked the ESCSB Prevention Office to partner with them on a statewide campaign.
The campaign was highlighted in the Virginia segment of the “What’s Happening in the USA” feature in the Spring 2021 issue of The National Psychologist Magazine. “Eastern Shore Community Services Board is working with pizza parlors on the shore to start using pizza boxes with messages about mental health and suicide prevention, with hopes to work with other types of restaurants to do the same with takeout boxes.”
The ESCSB pizza box suicide prevention campaign continues to provide the boxes to Eastern Shore restaurants free of charge. The ESCSB also provides drink coasters with suicide prevention information that they distribute to local restaurants and bars. Keep an eye out for these boxes the next time you order pizza from a restaurant on the Eastern Shore. Learn to recognize common warning signs so that you can reach out and help family, friends and neighbors. For more information about the suicide prevention campaign or to obtain pizza boxes and coasters, please contact the ESCSB Prevention Services Office at 757-442-5388.