Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background and are often the result of an untreated mental health condition. These thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous and are therefore considered a psychiatric emergency. Each year, more than 41,000 people die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family to navigate the tragedy of loss.
“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans — and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. said in a statement. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”
Managers and HR can play an important part when it comes to suicide prevention. It’s important to address employees’ mental health in a proactive, yet discreet manner. Depression can present itself in a variety of ways in the workplace — from excessive tardiness and absences to decreased productivity, morale, and use of appropriate safety precautions. People with depression are more prone to substance use and abuse, as well as fatigue and illness, among other concerns.
In many regards, an employer’s hands are tied when it comes to employee well-being. Short of expressing concern, there are few resources available that don’t compromise the employer’s standing. That’s one reason why so many companies turn to Employee Assistance Programs. In place of being able to assist on a personal level, business leaders find that EAPs are particularly helpful.
Although it’s difficult to approach employees about mental health concerns, it’s wise to have resources in place if someone is dealing with such challenges. An effective Employee Assistance Program can be one such resource.
It’s important to know the warning signs and risk factors and to take them seriously. If you see a friend, family member or employee exhibiting signs of suicidal thoughts, share your concerns with someone who can help. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions of the person you suspect may be suicidal:
If the person indicates that he or she is suicidal, stay calm. Don’t try to talk the person out of it but do try to make a deal: Have the person agree that he or she will not try anything until talking to you or another trusted person first. From there, seek help of a family member, counselor, teacher, or suicide prevention hotline immediately. Try to have someone stay with the suicidal person until an intervention from a professional happens. Show compassion, care, and understanding, even if it is difficult to do so.
If you are contemplating suicide, talk to a family member, trusted friend, doctor, or local suicide hotline right away.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24-hour suicide prevention assistance. 1-800-273-TALK
National Hopeline Network – 24-hour suicide crisis support. 1-800-SUICIDE