According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700,000 people commit suicide every year. For every person that commits suicide, there are even more that attempt it. This worldwide phenomenon is a serious public health problem that does not discriminate based on age, race, socioeconomic status or other key factors.
Stressful work environments can be linked to suicidal acts. The American Psychiatric Association stated that most suicide deaths happen within working-aged people, with more suicides occurring in the workplace than ever. In the quest to create psychologically safe workplaces, Kyan Health would like to share some steps that we can all take in order to increase our mental health and those of others around us. Suicide is preventable and each one of us can contribute to saving lives.
What can I do to support others who may be feeling suicidal?
Asking someone if they have been feeling inclined to partake in self-harming behaviour does not put the idea in their head, instead, it is a powerful way to show that you care. This honest discussion opens the door to an effective dialogue to understand what someone may be experiencing and allows you to see what are the next steps that need to be taken. It will also make someone who is facing emotional grief feel less alone.
Now that you have opened a line of communication, the next step is to listen without judgement. Listening allows you to understand the reasons behind a person’s pain, paving the way to feel and express empathy. Be careful not to guilt someone who may be experiencing trauma or challenging times by saying statements like:
- “You’re not thinking about suicide, are you?”
- ”You’re selﬁsh”
- “Don’t worry, I will keep your secret”
Instead, be patient and let them share their thoughts with you at their own speed. Make sure to take a non-judgmental approach to all communications.
Educate yourself and spread the word
Educating yourself and others about suicide prevention and the realities of people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts is very important. Know that people who are suicidal are not self-centered, selﬁsh or attention-seekers. They are in a crisis and in need of help. Understand that the purpose of suicidal desire is ending the pain, rather than ending life. And remember, anyone can become suicidal, regardless of their age, gender, country of origin, etc. Try not to make assumptions based on what someone’s life may look like from the outside. Finally. if you believe that someone is suicidal, don’t be afraid to take action, such as calling your local emergency number, getting help from trained professionals and letting friends and/or family members know what is going on.
Spot the warning signs
While there is no single cause of suicide, most suicidal behaviours are preceded by common warning signs. These warning signs include:
- Displaying mood swings
- Withdrawing from social life
- Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain
- Relying on drugs or alcohol to cope with emotions or get through the day
- Eating or sleeping more or less often
- Making statements about death or suicide
- Researching methods to commit suicide
- Talking about feeling hopeless or trapped
- Bullying or harassment
Create a Sense of Community
Social isolation, or a lack of meaningful connections, can have a negative impact on our mental health. According to WHO, a sense of isolation is strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. The workplace has potential to either be a place of social community or isolation. To ensure that the work environment around you is not considered the latter, consider implementing some of the following best practices:
- Book regular team meetings or ‘huddles’
- Prioritise onboarding
- Encourage conversation through surveys, Q&As and town hall meetings
- Organise activities outside of work, like volunteering together as a group
- Create virtual shared experiences, outside of office hour
Local suicide prevention hotlines are not only for people at risk of committing suicide, but also for friends and family members around them that are concerned. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call your local suicide prevention line and a counsellor will provide you with the support and assistance that you need.
Breaking the Taboo
The topic of suicide may be uncomfortable, awkward, or even taboo. Starting conversations around the reality of suicide is the first step to dispelling myths and creating awareness around the difficult topic.
If you are interested to learn more about how you can support those around you experiencing mental health challenges, contact us or visit www.kyanhealth.com to learn more.