On the 10 October 2019, the World Mental Health Day was aimed at suicide prevention. This was in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day which takes place on 10 September 2019 every year.
Suicide is not a new concept but it has, over the decades, reached alarming rates. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are circa 800,000 suicides per year, that’s one every 40 seconds and means that it ranks among the top 20 leading causes of death. Suicide does not simply affect the individual, it affects all those around them and a conservative estimate from commentators is that it significantly impacts 180 million people per year.
We all have the opportunity to help prevent suicides.
It is now well recognised that mental health is just as important in our day to day lives as physical health. In the UK there are more than 32 million people in employment, that’s nearly half the population. That means that we all have the opportunity to reach out to someone who may need support but getting people to open up and talk about a subject that tends to be taboo can be difficult.
It is hard when we are busy running a business or meeting deadlines to notice that others may be in distress and so we have identified some “red flags” to help you and your managers:-
Those who are at risk include (but not limited to) people who:-
- have previously self-harmed or expressed desires to self-harm/commit suicide;
- are suffering from mental health issues such as, but not limited to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar;
- have substance misuse issues; and/or
- are the victims of bullying (past or current).
Employers have a duty to provide a safe place and system of work (physically and mentally) but it must be acknowledged that, for the majority, we are not clinicians or counsellors. However, we can be trained to recognise and respond to mental health issues. In doing so and by creating an environment that allows workers to feel that they can talk openly about their issues, you drastically increase the likelihood of someone opening up.
We consider that talking to someone who is going through a difficult time is the best policy. Where you can, empathise, where you can’t sympathise, avoid judgment of what they are telling you and follow up with the individual. One of the nicest things to receive, when you’re feeling isolated and that death is the only escape route, is a message from a friend or colleague just checking in, talking to you about things and/or inviting you to spend some time with them, even if it’s to do chores.
If you don’t feel comfortable in talking then you can always signpost to medical practitioners, the Samaritans (on 116 123) or other charities such as Mind etc. to help them get the help they may need.
The sooner the individual gets support and help they need the sooner they can get on the path to ‘recovery’.
We must not overlook those giving the support as this can be, in itself, lonely and demanding, bringing with it its own stresses. This position is usually held by the individual’s manager but can be their colleagues. By embedding a positive, caring culture that supports everyone, organisations will reap the benefits of good health and good work.
I think that Charlie Chaplain summed up the human desire best in his speech in the movie “The Great Dictator”:
“We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”
If you have any concerns regarding the topics raised in this article, or you would just like a coffee and a chat, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01322 623707 or firstname.lastname@example.org