Industryweek 11874 World Suicide Prevention Day 2

Helping Prevent Suicide -- What Employers Can Do

Sept. 9, 2016
800,000 people die by suicide each year around the world.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. The day is devoted to mobilizing global action for suicide prevention through awareness-building and research efforts. Held annually, World Suicide Prevention Day serves as a reminder of the lives lost to suicide each year and acts as a motivating force to encourage widespread prevention efforts.

800,000 people die by suicide each year around the world.

Employers can help prevent suicides due to the fact that managers are well positioned to notice if employees are struggling and to take the first steps in assisting them to get help, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.  Over time, employers can observe changes in behavior, and can see employees at critical points in their life.

Workplaces often have a structure, such as an HR Department or Employee Assistance Program (EAP), to which employers can refer employees to mental health professionals.

Additionally companies can play an active role in suicide prevention by creating a work environment that fosters communication, a sense of belonging, and respect. Feeling connected to a community promotes emotional well-being and can decrease risk for suicide, according to a 2011 study.

There is also a stigma about mental illness can keep people from sharing their situation and seeking help, especially in their workplaces. Employers can reassure employees that mental health problems are real and treatable. Companies can talk about mental illnesses in the same way they talk about physical illnesses.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center suggests companies look for signs of immediate risk for suicide looking for signs.  There are some behaviors that may mean a person is at immediate risk for suicide. These three should prompt immediate action:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online obtaining a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Other behaviors may also indicate a serious risk, especially if the behavior is new; has increased; and/or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

They are:

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Managers need to understand why suicide prevention is part of their role as manager. They should both identify and respond to employees who may be at risk. Furthermore they should consider creating a workplace suicide prevention program. 


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline The Lifeline is a 24-hour toll-free phone line for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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