Saturday, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme is Connect. Communicate. Care.
Over the last half century, suicide rates have increased by 60% in some areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. The causes of suicide are complex and varied. Risk factors include depression, substance abuse, previous suicide attempt(s), self-harm, abuse, violence, chronic pain, stressful life events and loss, as well as social, biological, environmental and cultural influences.
Employers can help address the risk of suicide in their employee population by doing the following:
Workplace stress and overwork are related to poor mental health and may contribute to suicide risk in those already vulnerable. Strive for a work environment that values employees and promotes respect, open communication, a sense of belonging and emotional well-being, and that encourages people to seek help when they need it and to support each other.
In some countries, employee assistance programs (EAPs) may be the only real resource available. In others, there may be more options, including providing mental health/substance abuse coverage (e.g., medication and counseling) in benefits plans and/or partnering with non-governmental (or governmental) organizations to provide suicide helplines and assistance. Where possible, develop relationships with local mental health professionals.
Fear of stigma is one of the primary reasons that people do not seek mental health treatment. Employees who are reluctant to disclose information about their mental health problems may be particularly unlikely to access employer-sponsored support programs. To combat stigma,
Managers and co-workers should be aware of warning signs that may indicate who’s at risk for suicide. Education can take place through manager training programs, company newsletter articles, lunch and learns, staff meetings or company intranet/health promotion websites.
Consider implementing a suicide prevention program at the workplace. Key components of such a program include developing and outlining a response plan, mental health emergency contact information, education and training programs, and suicide prevention resource guides.
Employers who want to learn more about this topic can join us at the 2017 Employers' Forum on Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being in San Francisco, California, January 25-26, 2017.
For more strategies and country-specific resources, Global Business Group on Health members can access the full issue brief.