September marks National Suicide Prevention Month with businesses and other entities around the world taking action to spread awareness and revamp their support systems. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds and unfortunately, the figures only seem to be growing, making it essential that we work together to raise awareness about mental health and suicide.
The WHO also estimates that one person loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds and the Office for National Statistics reports that 115 people die by suicide every week in the UK with 75% of them being males.
Today, mental health is breaking out of being a taboo topic and organisations are realising the crippling effects of mental illness—whether an employee is experiencing negative thoughts themselves or is dealing with a spouse/partner, child, family member, or friend who is.
spotting the signs
They say hindsight is 20/20. And when it comes to suicide prevention, employers can’t afford to miss the signs that can help them identify someone who could be suicidal. Employees won’t always admit that they have suicidal thoughts, but there are signs that you can look out for.
Some indicators of mental health may include:
- Reduced social interactions
- Mood changes
- Neglecting themselves
- Low energy
- Changes to routines
- Difficulty sleeping or eating
- Talking about suicide in a humourous way
- Acting recklessly
If an employee is showing signs that are commonly associated with suicide, you as an employer need to know what to do in such situations. In addition, you also need to make sure that your employees are aware of how to identify the signs and how to navigate a scenario where a colleague confides in them about their mental health struggles or thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
how can organisations take action during National Suicide Prevention Month?
National Suicide Prevention Month offers a unique opportunity for organisations and decision-makers to get involved and provide an open and safe space where mental health and suicide can be discussed. Here are a few ways to get you started during the month.
talk about why suicide prevention matters: Employers need to talk about mental health and suicide and why prevention matters. Building confidence and openness in discussing these topics in a safe space is a great starting point. Create a culture where everyone has psychological safety by reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health through active listening and encouraging employees to seek help.
promote the need for self-care: Employees often get wrapped up in their workloads and forget to give their mental health the importance it deserves. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone looks after their mental health. Normalise things like regular breaks, talking with a colleague about interests outside of work, and taking time to read a book or something that relaxes them and breaks the monotony of their daily work life.
offer easily accessible resources: Even with awareness, there will always be employees who don’t want to talk about their mental health issues. Making resources like programmes, mental health professionals, and informative material available can give them the freedom to seek help on their own without having to confide in a manager or colleague. The point is to let them feel comfortable to address their mental health problems in a way that works for them. Keep in mind that not all employees will seek help the same way.
ask how you can support them: Your employees may have a better handle on their mental health condition than anyone else. This is why it’s important to ask about what you as an employer can do to support them whether they’re going through a mental health condition at present or have gone through something in the past and require additional support to help maintain their present state of mind.
final thoughts on National Suicide Prevention Month from Kinhub
Suicide Prevention Month creates an excellent opportunity for organisations to not simply open up a conversation about mental health and suicide, but to also start implementing year-round initiatives that give it the importance it deserves.
Mental health isn’t something that employees deal with once a year and your organisation’s efforts shouldn’t be limited to a single day or month either. Whether it’s something as simple as making the time to speak to someone who’s having a bad day or as complex as rolling out a fully developed suicide awareness and prevention plan, every action matters and every employee can play a role in helping save a life.