Suicide is an incredible tragedy, at any age or stage of life. In the past, I've discussed the growing rate of suicide among young adults – teenagers in particular. However, suicide can touch anyone and sadly, suicide rates in the workplace are on the rise. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. I think it is so important that we bring suicide out of the shadows and discuss what part we can play in preventing suicide in the workplace.
Is suicide a problem in the Canadian workplace?
You may not realize how prevalent suicide is in our workplaces and the numbers of Canadians affected by suicide are staggering. According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP):
- It's estimated that more than 3,000,000 Canadians have been affected by suicide
- It's likely that many people in every workplace have known someone who has died by suicide
- Suicide is the leading cause of injury-related death in Canada
- Working-aged men and women represent one of the highest risk groups for suicide
- Men of working age die by suicide 3 to 4 times more often than women
- Women are hospitalized for suicide-related behaviour 1.5 times more often than men
- Although suicide deaths affect almost all age groups, middle-aged men (40 to 59) have the highest rates
Why is workplace suicide on the rise?
Many attribute the rise in workplace suicide to globalization which has really altered the way we work. Job insecurity, the shift to contract workers, unrealistic targets and deadlines, the pressure to produce profit and the abandonment of any work/life balance are all contributors.
What can you do to prevent suicide in your workplace?
There are many things that you can do to prevent suicide and promote mental health in your workplace:
- Promote information and resources on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention (suicide bereavement)
- Create a caring work environment
- Reduce the stigma that accompanies suicide
- Give your managers and employees the right tools to be able to identify and support employees at risk of suicide
- Once at-risk behaviour is recognized, act on it – make sure your employee gets the appropriate help, work on reducing stress levels, perhaps flexible hours or working from home...
- Ensure that employees that are bereaved by suicide get the help that they need
- Encourage help-seeking behaviours
- Establish a response protocol in the event of a suicide or suicide attempt at work
What are the benefits to becoming a suicide-safer workplace?
There are many great reasons for becoming a suicide-safer workplace:
- The number 1 reason is that you could be saving lives!
- Workplaces injuries and absences will be reduced
- A happy and healthy workforce is more productive
- A compassionate and psychologically safe workplace inspires employees to be their best
It's important for every company to play their part in suicide prevention. Does your company have a suicide prevention program in place? You can make a difference.