Today is World Suicide Prevention Day 2021.
Each year in September, organisations, individuals and communities around the world come together to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, with the aim being to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.
The pandemic amplified mental health struggles – some of the lasting ripple effects are likely to become prevalent soon, as many people navigate the transition out of lockdown and back to the office. Indeed, some experts are predicting the next epidemic will be one of mental health that could persist for years to come. Suicide is the starkest consequence of mental illness, and World Suicide Prevention Day is a sobering reminder of what is at stake when we talk about mental health.
According to the World Health Organisation, 700,000 people across the world die by suicide every year. Every one of these lives lost is a tragedy.
Studies have found some key factors that contributed to workplace suicides were:
- being investigated over a work matter
- bullying, harassment or disagreements with a work colleague or supervisor
- performance pressures and long hours
- fear of retrenchment or actual retrenchment
- work stress
There are strategies that you as an employer can follow to minimise the impact of mental ill health in the workplace.
Mental health training for managers
Having managers in the workplace who are equipped with the tools and knowledge to both recognise the onset of, and support colleagues through, mental health issues will prove to be invaluable. advo offer workshops on mental health for managers, which addresses exactly this. Contact us for more info.
Early intervention is crucial. Employees should be aware of the support available before they need it. Consider practical strategies such as putting up posters in the workplace, or sending email reminders of how to access Employee Assistance Programmes. If your organisation does not have an EAP, consider sign posting both physically and via email to more general organisations and charities.
The role of workplace culture in preventing suicide
A healthy workplace culture centres around connection – to both colleagues and to meaningful work. Remote and hybrid work arrangements are likely to be a lasting trend – therefore business leaders must go the extra mile in cultivating a culture of connection. Other ways that show your workplace values could be openly practicing gratitude and appreciation.
Leaders must set the tone
Business leaders must set the tone for the larger conversation around mental health. As the saying goes “What can be mentioned, can be managed”. Removing the stigma around mental health is a powerful step that can be taken towards addressing serious mental illness.
Suicide is never easy to discuss, and a growing number of us have lost a friend, family member or colleague this way. Let us use World Suicide Prevention Day to initiate difficult discussions and drive home just how high the stakes are: mental ill health can be a matter of life and death.
If you’d like help for your organisation any of the areas mentioned in this article, please contact us today.