September is Suicide Prevention month
5 Things You Should Know
Suicide is a leading cause of death among working age adults in the United States. It deeply impacts workers, families, and communities. Fortunately, like other workplace fatalities, suicides can be prevented. Below are 5 things to know about preventing suicide.
Everyone can help prevent suicide.
Mental health and suicide can be difficult to talk about—especially with work colleagues—but your actions can make a difference. When you work closely with others, you may sense when something is wrong.
Know the warning signs of suicide.
There is no single cause for suicide but there are warning signs. Changes in behavior, mood, or even what they say may signal someone is at risk. Take these signs seriously. It could save a life.
Ask “Are you okay?”
If you are concerned about a coworker, talk with them privately, and listen without judgment. Encourage them to reach out to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the human resources (HR) department, or a mental health professional.
If someone is in crisis, stay with them and get help.
If you believe a coworker is at immediate risk of suicide, stay with them until you can get further help. Contact emergency services or the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Suicide prevention resources are available.
• Call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
• Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www. afsp.org) to learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what you can do to help prevent suicide.
Support One Another
How to Talk to Your Coworkers About Mental Health
Are you feeling the effects of workplace stress or worried about your coworkers? Are you looking for ways to support one another? Here are some tips:
1 Be respectful.
Check on your coworkers. A simple “How’s it going?” could start a meaningful conversation. If someone does not want to talk, be respectful and say that you are available to listen at another time. Other questions you can ask to get the conversation going:
- How are you feeling?
- Are you keeping in touch with your support system (e.g., family and friends)?
- How can I help?
2 Listen compassionately.
If someone wants to talk, give them your undivided attention. Put away devices, make eye contact, and have an open body position (look at them and do not cross your arms or legs). Then listen without judgement.
3 Determine if more assistance is needed.
A coworker might just need to talk about what is bothering them. However, if someone mentions or shows any of the following signs or symptoms, they might need additional support:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people
- Having low or no energy
- Having unexplained aches and pains, such as constant stomachaches or headaches
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Excessive smoking, drinking, or using drugs, including prescription medications
- Worrying a lot of the time
- Feeling guilty but not sure why
- Thinking of self-harm or suicide
It may not be appropriate for you to offer advice, but do share resources or information about how to get help (e.g., refer to your human resources department or an employee assistance program).
4 Check back later.
It can be hard to strike a balance between checking in and giving space. If your concern comes from a sincere place, your coworkers will likely appreciate that you care enough to check in, listen, and provide reassurance when they need it.