Tag Archives: National Suicide Prevention Week

6 Things to Do to Prevent Suicides

This year, for World Suicide Prevention Day, the theme is “Reaching Out to Save Lives” – a message all employers can use to let people know that everyone can play a role in suicide prevention. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force members and the organizations they serve offer the top six things workplaces can do during the month of September to make prevention a health and safety priority:

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  1. Offer a Leadership Proclamation: “Not Another Life to Lose”

Members of executive leadership can take bold and visible positions declaring suicide prevention and mental health promotion critical workplace concerns. This proclamation can be in the form of a newsletter to employees or a video on a website.

  1. Highlight Mental Health Resources

Host a brown bag lunch program each day for the week. Invite employee assistance program (EAP) representatives or other local mental health professionals to offer educational session on stress, work-life balance, coping with depression or other related topics.

Offer a mental health fair where local suicide prevention, mental health or other wellness resources share more information and employees get a “passport” stamped for each one they visit. Completed passports go into a drawing for a prize.

Send resources to employees such as:

  1. Launch a Mental Wellness Task Force

A true comprehensive and sustained public health approach to prevention will take more than an awareness week or one-time training. To create significant change, a more strategic approach is needed. Start by pulling together a small group of stakeholders – people whose job titles reflect some level of relevance to this issue (i.e., wellness, HR, risk management, safety) and others who are passionate about prevention because it has touched their lives personally. Their task? To identify culturally relevant areas of strength and vulnerability for suicide within the organization and to develop a strategic approach to change.

Here are some resources:

  1. Leverage Social Media

During this week, companies can join the international conversation by posting on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Sample posts:
    • [Name of company or Twitter handle] makes #suicideprevention a health and safety priority #WSPD15
    • [Name of company or Twitter handle] We are doing our part to #preventsuicide during #NSPW. Everyone can play a role!
  • Hashtags:
    • National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 7-13)
      • #NSPW
      • #NSPW15
      • #SuicidePrevention
    • World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10)
      • #WSPD
      • #WSPD15
    • Workplace
      • #WorkplaceMH
      • #WorkingMinds
    • Guidelines on social media and mental health.
  1. Honor Suicide Loss With Candle-Lighting Ceremony

How companies respond to the aftermath of suicide matters greatly. Grief and trauma support, thoughtful communication and compassionate leadership can help a workforce make the transition from immobilization to a bonded community.

Here are some resources:

  1. Donate to or Volunteer for Local or National Suicide Prevention Organizations

Engaging in community prevention efforts is a great way for employees to give back and to get to know the local resources available. Corporate investments in prevention programs and research will help us get ahead of the problem. Get involved!

Here are some resources:

Get the Word Out: Ask for Help!

We need to focus on the root causes of suicide and help people feel okay about receiving help. There is no better place to do this than in the workplace, and this week is National Suicide Prevention Week, which gives us the opportunity to spread the word.

It’s important to understand some of the antecedents, like depression, because this is where the cure lies and where, because of our misunderstanding and fear, we often don’t act. Here are some statistics from the American Association of Suicidology that should open everyone’s eyes:

  • Nine out of 10 people who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder.
  • Only three out of 10 people who die by suicide received mental health services in the year before they died.
  • Depression is the most prevalent mental health disorder — 20.9 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness in any given year.
  • Treatment for depression is effective 60% to 80% of the time.

A 2007 study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that depressed employees, who received “enhanced care,” defined as care management and optional psychotherapy, worked longer weeks and demonstrated greater job retention than other groups. This led to an annual average value of $1,800 per worker, which is estimated to be greater than the cost of “the outreach program and the roughly 10 additional mental-health specialty visits made by subjects in the treatment group.”

I realize that there are a lot of statistics that might make you zone out, so let me make what I am saying perfectly clear.

Educating the workforce about mental health and depression so that folks know that it is perfectly okay to seek help should be every employer’s goal. It is the right thing to do. It will also lead to higher productivity and lower safety and healthcare costs.

Once people feel comfortable admitting they have a problem, they will be more likely to seek help, which leads to the next thing employers or insurers should do. They need to have some sort of behavioral health service that will do a confidential but thorough assessment so that they can facilitate a referral for the right kind of assistance for each person in need. An employee assistance program (EAP) can help in both aspects of this process; education and assessment/referral/follow up.

This year, make National Suicide Prevention week the time when you kick off the process of education — and make sure that this is the beginning, not the end, of your efforts.

For assistance in doing this, visit the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Workplace Task Force.