A public service announcement released in Finland has garnered international media buzz, launching a conversation about media’s effect on alcohol recovery.
The non-profit that created the video, Fragile Childhood, aims to protect children from abuse by parents suffering from alcohol addiction, and the organization’s PSA has received a tremendous amount of attention because of its frightening nature: the camera focuses on the faces of children, all of them terrified by some form the viewer cannot see.
Later, when it is revealed that the figures scaring the children are their own parents who are decorated in disturbing costume, one even disguised as a large mutated rat, the non-profit’s message is clear: “How do our children see us when we’ve been drinking?” is the tagline, written beneath the look of a child whose father, wearing a sheer mask, has just fastened his seatbelt for him. Covered in American and British news sources, this one-minute commercial appears to be highly persuasive as a form of alcohol recovery, specifically for a country that is struggling with widespread alcohol abuse.
As reported by BBC News, in 2006, the state released a report stating that alcohol was Finland’s number one killer, with deaths from alcohol-related causes outnumbering those caused by heart disease and cancer. The number of Finns consuming alcohol, and dying from its effects, did not decrease, when in 2009 the alcohol consumption of Finns was highest among Nordic countries.
The effectiveness of the Finnish non-profit’s PSA may be that, other than the tagline that appears at the end, it relies on no words. Instead, looks of fear narrate the short clip, demonstrating well the horror that children of parents with an addiction to alcohol feel. I can imagine that the announcement would be extremely painful for any family member of an alcohol abuser to watch, but it certainly would be enough to propel them to seek alcohol rehab for their loved one.