Suicide affects people of all ages. In 2009, there were 25 reported deaths by suicide among children aged 10 to 14 in Canada. Many children are often not well supported in developing emotional literacy—the key in allowing them to identify emotions in not only themselves but also others. A lack of emotional literacy can make life challenging for children to speak about how they're feeling, or know how to cope with their emotions. This can become increasingly stressful as they encounter more difficult situations in life. Without these crucial skills and supportive interventions, many children find themselves expressing their difficulties in negative ways to satisfy their emotional needs. This can include health complaints, difficulties with school, difficulties socializing with peers, unwillingness to leave the house, violent behaviour, or theft.
Experts believe that early prevention through education is the key to reducing risks in the long run. The younger a child is, the more open they are still to guidance from parents and educators as opposed to older children whose experiences may lead them to close up and resist guidance. Therefore, the younger age group presents a great opportunity for early education and prevention. The Lisa Brown Foundation recognizes this opportunity and provided funding to SickKids to develop a tool for early emotional literacy education.
As part of an initiative for World Suicide Prevention Day, SickKids launched a game called Monarch’s Mission, targeting children ages 7–12. In the game, the player assumes the role of a space explorer, who through galactic travel meets otherworldly creatures experiencing different emotions. Through the interactions with these creations, the player learns to recognize emotions via facial cues, have open discussions about emotions, and find coping strategies for each situation. The game is narrative-based with prompts for action, much like a choose your own adventure story. Recognizing the range of reading skills in this age group, the game had built-in voice overs for the full game to help children who may be struggling to understand the text presented.
Game Concept / Game Design / Art direction / Visual design / Visual development