Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with about 1 death every 11 minutes. Suicide rates in 2020 were 30% higher than in 2000, leaving tens of thousands of lives lost each year and causing grief and suffering to countless families and communities. “In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million made a plan, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.” The statistics are concerning, yet there is hope to be found in this public health issue, as suicide is preventable. Positive and timely interventions with an individual in crisis may, in fact, save a life.
U.S. adults spend more time working than any other activity besides sleeping, which means that managers are uniquely positioned to learn to recognize warning signs and participate in suicide prevention efforts.
Suicide Prevention Suggestions for Managers
Identify employees of concern. Take every statement referencing suicide seriously. Pay attention to employees experiencing hopelessness or feeling alone. Listen for expressions of not wanting to wake up or be around anymore. These are some of the warning signs that an employee may be at risk.
Talk to the employee. Talk openly and supportively to the employee and express your concern. Ask, “Have you had thoughts about killing yourself or wishing you weren’t alive?” Asking about suicidal thoughts gives the person permission to talk about thoughts they may be having. It will not make them suicidal.
Refer for professional support. Offer to assist the employee in calling a suicide prevention hotline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or your company’s EAP to connect them with support. However, if there is a reason to believe the person is at immediate risk of harm to themselves, call 911.
Though suicide is a complex issue, “90% of people who die by suicide have an underlying and potentially treatable mental health condition.” Connecting a person to professional support may not only prevent them from making a suicide attempt but can also be the gateway to mental health treatment strategies that have been proven to help people manage their suicidal ideation and behavior over time.
Your company’s employee assistance program can provide training and guidance while helping to raise awareness about suicide prevention in your workplace. For example, CMG Associates offers manager consultations to assist in connecting at-risk employees with support, ensure that a safety plan is in place, and debrief, providing reassurance that all possible steps were followed.
Contact us today to request a proposal.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988 or 800-273-8255) or your local emergency services (911).