The Samaritans are holding local events throughout the month of July to raise awareness about suicide and I wanted to cover some topics about it too.
Prevent Suicide and Its Ideation in Workplaces
Suicide is becoming a menace and a threat to many lives. Cases of people taking their lives are on the rise, be it in the workplace or at home. To stop it, society, including workspace managers, needs to create awareness about this topic. They can do so by teaming up and supporting organisations like Samaritans, who create awareness and events that help to prevent suicide.
According to National Statistics from the UK, the number of registered suicide death in England and Wales was 5,691 in 2019. This equals 15.5 suicides every day and also the leading killer for men aged 45 and below. In addition, a big part of these numbers fall in the working-age bracket of 24 to 64, a sign most workplaces are ill-prepared to handle suicidal employees.
This further raises eyebrows if workplaces have mechanisms to help employees destress or deal with mental issues. Suppose you are a human resource, wellness, or health and safety manager. This article is for you. Below you will find relevant information on how workplaces can prevent suicides and help those facing mental health challenges. So read on.
First, what is Samaritan Month?
It is the month in which all Samaritans branches hold local events to raise awareness about suicides.
These events take place throughout July every year.
The initiative is usually led by the samaritan organisation together with National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA). The two join hands with other 70 plus mental health and suicide prevention groups to advocate for better and ambitious plans about suicide prevention from the governments.
Apart from urging the UK and Ireland governments to make the prevention of suicide a priority, they also challenge citizens to become good listeners. On top of that, they share important expert tips to help residents become brilliant listeners.
Every year they use a different theme focusing on a particular aspect of preventing suicide. At the same time, create awareness about the services they offer to those struggling with stress and mental issues. Their services are open day and night.
How to Prevent Suicide in Workplaces
The benefits of having a healthy working environment go beyond cost savings; besides, supporting employees going through issues fosters loyalty and lift productivity. So a company should consider mental health promotion as an investment to the greater good of the workforce and not an expense. Here are five measures an employer can implement to help employees with mental health and prevent suicide.
- Create a Friendly Workplace
As a manager in charge of employees, you have to develop a proactive and consistent approach for addressing work-related problems. Doing so makes employees feel at ease, protected, and confident. To achieve this, you need to define a clear policy advocating zero tolerance to bullying, intimidation, and harassment. And then, ensure the policy is well documented, communicated, and enforced without bias at all levels.
- Develop a Fully Engaged Workforce
Let employees work in sections where they can exploit their strengths. This will allow them to develop a meaningful commitment to their duties. According to studies, a workforce that feels connected to their work is more productive. They feel they are part of the company and will even work extra hours for the greater good. In addition, an engaging workforce encourages workers to reveal their true elements and authentic leadership skills.
- Reward Mental Wellness
The same way workplaces create incentives for programs like nutrition and fitness. They should also do the same thing on mental health. For example, management can develop a reward system where employees earn points every time they attend a workshop related to mental health. This kind of approach encourages workers to learn about mental wellness.
- Create a Social Marketing Campaign
Develop an awareness campaign letting workers know they can find help no matter what they are going through. This will inform those who might have suicide ideas that many resources exist and it’s possible to find help. Likewise, the social marketing campaign should display contacts of organisations dealing with mental health and suicide issues.
How to Support Employees
Stress and depression in the workplace are real. Too, suicidal employees more often hide their feelings. Indeed, this is a difficult situation for management to handle. Here are a few approaches to help such employees and the entire workforce.
- Host Suicidal and Mental Health Workshops
Hosting this kind of program and inviting mental health experts allows employees to interact and learn. In addition, such sessions help create awareness about depression, alcohol dependence, bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses that lead to suicide. More importantly, those with issues feel encouraged with stories of successful treatment and recovery.
A workplace environment should be sensitive to employees returning to work after a suicide crisis like an attempt or loss. These people are still in recovery mode and need transition support as they recover. You can do so by empowering them to be part of the reintegration plan. Alternatively, you can have a consultant facilitate workplace conversation when an employee suffers a loss related to suicide or not. This is good since workmates may not know how to help the colleague.
- Support Bereavement
Suicide incidents involving employees affect the entire workplace. Employees who were close to the deceased may show suicidal behaviours. That’s why management needs to take such occurrences seriously. And on top of that, they should respectfully honour the person like they do other deaths if the culture in the workplace includes sending cards and flowers to the grieving family. They should replicate the same to colleagues who died by suicide.
As you have read, workplaces can prevent suicide. Suicide is not a mental health issue by itself but a probable result of a treatable mental disorder. These disorders may include bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and personality disorder. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigmatisation related to mental issues, making those suffering shy away instead of seeking help.
As a manager, look for means to create mental health awareness for your workers. Encourage them to seek help if they have problematic issues. You can even go the extra mile and have a mental expert visit once in a while. Or better yet, have contacts of relevant organisations displayed on the notice board.