Suicide Hurts. Make Mental Health an HR Priority
Protect the Mental Health of Your Workplace with Suicide Awareness
September is Suicide Awareness month — bringing attention to those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. How does suicide impact our workplaces?
We know that suicide is at a 50-year high, a major mental health crisis with 44,000 Americans dying by suicide every year. The risk of suicide is highest among working adults between 45 and 64.
While the specific cause of suicide cannot be explained, the high rates of stress at this age, including high debt, the opioid epidemic, social stress and competition across social media, are considered factors in fueling a sometimes an already simmering state of anxiety and depression.
Various stressors may create strong feelings of hopelessness. In many with diagnosed (sometimes undiagnosed) mental health issues, some situations may seem impossible to overcome through any other method than death.
Be a Proactive Employer
So, what can we do as employers to support those who may need help? Employers who currently provide some sort of behavioral health counseling benefit in the form of a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – are already going in the right direction.
This can be a life line for those that may not know who to talk to or feel that they have no one who supports them in these areas
Be Concerned — Suicide Rates are Increasing
Suicide in the workplace is definitely a serious and growing concern. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), 282 workplace suicides occurred in 2013, the highest number recorded since the CFOI series began in 1992. In addition, Male employees are 15 times more likely than females to commit suicide because of workplace issues.
According to BLS Most employees who attempt or die by suicide have mental health or psychological disorders that haven’t been addressed. For example, if someone loses a promotion or gets fired, it can elevate pre-existing stressors and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or drug use.
Take Action for Suicide Prevention Now
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Constantly assess the culture of your workplace and work to build a trustworthy and compassionate environment.
- Educate everyone about this topic. Educate employees and employers on the signs of deep depression and provide support for those in need. This can be in the form of training or simply listening.
- Take threats or any implication of depression or suicide seriously. Listen and watch for implying despair or consistent sadness or hopelessness in conversations or body language.
If you or someone you know might be contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis text live. In an emergency, you can always call 911 or contact a local hospital or mental health facility.