Notebook: Recognize The Signs
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Notebook: Recognize The Signs

Learn to identify they physical and emotional indicators that an employee is vulnerable to suicidal tendencies.

October 1, 2021

Aside from the moral, emotional, and psychological burdens suicide leaves to family and friends, it also takes a significant toll on the companies they work for and the economy in general.

From an economic perspective, suicide adds to a high cost charged at employers, governments, and workers themselves. Employers with a worker who dies by suicide bear a financial debt, covering production disturbance costs, human capital costs, medical costs, administrative costs and other costs, according to Workwear Guru, which provides apparel workwear reviews and comparison articles. CLICK HERE to access some recent research the group conducted on worker suicide.

According to the Centre for Mental Health, the economy loses 91 million days each year to mental health issues. The burden of the costs goes mainly to the employer.

While mental health problems are a burden for the economy, suicide places the problem at another level. In fact, for every team member dying from suicide, 10-20 others are attempting, according to World Health Organization stats. For employers, it means they must pay for the recovery costs of employees that attempt suicide.

Providing assistance to a person struggling with mental health is not always easy. As an employer or manager, if you notice any suicide warnings signs in someone, it is vital to take next steps to help them get out of their state.

Recognize the warning signs
By knowing the warning signs, family members, friends, and colleagues can assist those struggling with suicidal thoughts to receive the care and treatment they need.
Some of the most common signs include:

  • An increase of lateness and absenteeism at work
  • Lower productivity
  • Lower self-confidence
  • Decreased communication with co-workers
  • Shows signs of substance abuse
  • Shows frequent signs of agitation
  • Lack of protection in the workplace
  • Segregation from the group (i.e., eating lunch alone)

Start a conversation  
Contact and open conversation are the best things you could do to a colleague struggling with suicidal thoughts. Approach the discussion with deep empathy for your co-worker, even if you can’t understand their feelings. Providing a sympathetic ear to listen to their problems and emotions is a starting point.
It is crucial not to question their thoughts and feelings rather than accept them. At no point should you demeanor or say “this is just a phase” to them. That could pose a significant threat to them, as they would feel alienated. Be there for them and help them find ways to feel that life is worth living.

Ask honest questions
Though this is easier said than done, asking direct questions can help you identify if the person is suicidal. Ask them direct questions on how they are feeling and if they are thinking about suicide. It is essential to communicate with compassion and openness to believe you are a person they can lean on during a difficult time.

Make sure they understand it is not weak to say they are not okay and you are happy to support them.

Direct them to professional care
Once you are sure your co-worker or friend is struggling with suicidal thoughts, lead them to get professional care. Suppose the person is reluctant to reach out for professional help. In that case, you can help them by locating treatment facilities, setting an appointment for them, or accompany them to the doctor’s visit.

If you are unsure of how you can help an employee, colleague or coworker with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or Crisis Text Line (TALK to 741-741) to get professional advice on the next steps.