There are very few people who haven’t been touched by the tragedy of suicide, whether that of a work colleague, neighbour, friend or family member. Every year on 10 September, “World Suicide Prevention Day” reminds us that preventing suicide is often possible and all of us can make a difference.
The current statistics
The UK male suicide rate of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 is three times that for females. Males aged 45 to 49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate (27.1 deaths per 100,000 males); while for females, the age group with the highest rate was also 45 to 49 years, at 9.2 deaths per 100,000.
Statistics show a rise in suicide rates during times of economic hardship and uncertainty; such a time as now, but there are things we can do to prevent suicidal behaviour and to spot the danger signs before another person is lost and another family has to cope with the agonising grief, guilt and anger a suicide leaves in its wake.
Duty of Care
Being aware of those at risk in the workplace and recognising the emotional bandages people use when they aren’t coping is an increasingly important skill for both managers and colleagues. There can be a gossamer-thin line between just coping and complete overload, where a person perceives they have lost hope and control.
Because we spend so much time at work, other employees become like a second family to us and as such, we can be in a good position to spot crucial changes in personality and behaviour that may suggest suicide risk or other mental health issues. Furthermore, front line staff, particularly those working for the Public Sector, housing associations, charities and in other customer-facing social roles often work with customers who are vulnerable or at risk, and would gain confidence and benefit by having the knowledge to direct them to appropriate help.
Spot 10 red flags of suicide risk
Business owners, managers and co-workers must be able to talk about mental illness without stigma and in the same way as they do about physical illness. Often suicide risk begins with depression or generalised anxiety and intensifies from there, so it is important to recognise key symptoms before they escalate and signpost a person to seek help.
If someone in your office is raising some of these red flags, it is important that you or your manager reacts. Some of the most significant signs are:
- History of previous suicide attempt
- Addiction: Drug, alcohol, gambling problems affecting performance.
- Mood and anxiety issues, e.g., depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A trigger event i.e. relationship break up; ill health; debt; legal or work worries
- Access to the means to kill oneself such as drugs, gun, or other lethal means
- Talking about hopelessness, ‘wanting to die’ or ‘commit suicide’
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Appearing agitated, anxious and behaving recklessly
- Isolating oneself from work colleagues
- Aggressive behaviour or talking about taking revenge
Why Learn About Suicide Prevention?
Depression, as one of the main risk factors for suicide, is a leading cause of workplace absence and low performance. As your most valuable asset, happy and healthy staff are good for business, and the better the mental and physical health of your team, the more productive your business will be.
Many businesses have their own HR Department responsible for a culture of health and wellbeing, but whatever the size of your organisation, training everyone to recognise and report mental health and suicide concerns speaks volumes about your commitment towards ‘duty of care’ and benefits the whole business.
Take Action on Suicide Now
CBLD has developed a Staff Wellbeing and Mental Health Awareness Workshop for the workplace to help business owners, managers and front-line staff identify and help colleagues and customers who may be at risk, connecting that person with the most appropriate sources of care.
The workshop delivers a uniquely inspiring and motivational message, identifying information about local mental health and related resources, alongside practical demonstrations to promote a philosophy of support, ‘connectedness’ and community in the workplace.
The following content would be bespoke to your organisation
- Understanding the main physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms of suicide risk in yourself and others
- Recognise the warning signs of those at risk
- How to remain calm in difficult situations
- Resilience strategies to overcome negative experiences
- Use relaxation as powerful coping strategy
- A master toolkit of techniques, tools and tips for building knowledge of mental health and wellbeing (main focus)
- A blueprint for handling a suicide event in the workplace with clear steps to take in the aftermath, what you can and can’t do
- Practical action plan for the workplace with tools and techniques
- Contextualised case studies using real workplace scenarios to practice the tools and techniques, aid understanding and transfer of learning.
A short group relaxation is available to close the session (Recorded on mobiles for future benefit)
For more information on this topical and crucial course, contact me.