Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

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Laura Lillo Pulido

Laura Lillo Pulido

Forensic health psychologist

Suicide is one of the main mortality causes worldwide, above traffic accidents or homicides. The World Health Organization informs that more than 700 000 people die due to suicide. Additionally, for each 10 completed suicides, there are 20 estimated attempts. The wave of suffering goes from the main victims to their families, close friends or work environment. 

Who is at risk?

The relationship between suicide and certain mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or burnout is clear. However, it can also be done impulsively, due to incapacity to deal with loneliness, anguish or acute stress. In the same line, we can find hopelessness or apathy, the degree up to which the victim is able to see solutions or alternatives to the problem they are having at that moment or the strengths they have to solve or overcome it. 

One of the main risk factors better predicting suicide behavior are previous failed attempts and self harm. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has made a plan for Suicide Prevention in the Workplace. They explain that the more the plan is prepared (the more concrete it is: how? when?…), the more likely it is for it to come to an end. 

According to data from the National Statistics Institute, the biggest number of deaths resulting from suicide according to age was produced in the 30 to 39 years gap, followed by ages from 50 to 54 and from 45 to 49 years old.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Even if it might sound counterintuitive, it is important to talk about suicide in order to prevent it. If this topic is addressed adequately, through destigmatization, certain cases can be detected and proposed with the right strategies to face it. This is the reason why September is the official month to suicide prevention and awareness. It is the precise moment to join our strengths and work hard on behalf of an issue that is clearly affecting our whole society. Writing a simple message, reading an article or asking somebody “how are you? ” can absolutely and completely change somebody’s life.

Recent facts

From the journal The Washington Post they show recent data concerning this topic. Suicidal thoughts have increased due to the pandemic: an 11% in all ages and even a 25.5% in young adults. They explain some tragic specific cases from people meeting criteria for multiple risk factors who remained unattended. Whose fault is this? Is it the system’s? Can we work deeply in prevention strategies?

How can I prevent this from my organization?
Suicide Prevention Strategies

1. Look for warning signs

As we have mentioned previously, there are several risk factors that can serve as a warning that something worse is going to happen in the near future. For example, recent previous attempts, self-harming behaviors, or moments of great hopelessness, uncertainty, or stress. Organizations can design protocols to identify these signs as soon as possible through periodic mental health evaluations.

At Wemby we carry out an initial assessment of the problem, later we assign the appropriate professional for each user and design a tailor-made plan. This process is constantly reviewed and when it is finished we offer analytics and a final report of our work.

2. Speak about suicide

Sometimes suicide is treated as if it were a forbidden subject, but it is necessary to talk about it, all we have to do is tell the right information. In the newspaper The Conversation they explain how to avoid the dreaded “call effect”.

  1. Explain suicide as a definitive “solution” to a temporary problem. That is, do not highlight the positive connotations of relief of the person who dies, but rather the pain and permanence of the event. 
  2. Not to mention the methods that are used. Specifying this in detail can be potentially dangerous.
  3. Expose the risk factors in order to develop a good prevention plan.
  4. Addressing the multi-causality of suicide: it is not about having a difficult time, people who reach this extreme usually see many areas of their lives affected in a complex way: work, family…

3. Create a specific plan for suicide prevention at your company

Your company can be key to prevent some cases and in this way save lives. Here are some specific guidelines that can help you:

  • Use Suicide Prevention Apps

There are specific applications that can be used in these cases, including emergency telephones that can be reached 24 hours a day:

  • Prevensuic is the first application developed in Spanish for suicide prevention.
  • The virtual hope box application is an application designed for the use of patients and their therapists as support in treatment. Provides tools that can help you manage some problems, relaxation, distraction, or positive thinking.
  • Promotes self-care at all levels

Self-care can help prevent hopelessness and improve self-esteem, in fact, it is part of the benefits of quality online therapy that Wemby offers.

  • Make a safety plan for severe cases

If you manage to detect a serious or imminent risk case, it is vitally important that you go to a team of professionals who can help you. The security plan should include specific phone numbers of people you will go to if you have the thought or intention of committing the act, as well as other strategies and concrete actions that will be of help to you at that time, as mentioned in this article.

  • Contact a team of professionals

Despite taking into account all the necessary guidelines, and their importance and effectiveness, suicide continues to be present in our daily lives, given the magnitude and scope of the problem that exists in today’s society. There is nothing better than contacting a team of sufficiently qualified professionals who can help you and your organization as soon as possible.

About the Author

Hi! I’m Laura Lillo, a forensic and clinical psychologist. I  strongly believe that psychology services should be accessible to all.  I’ve worked in prisons and with kids with risks of social exclusion. This has taught me the importance of constant learning and improvement as a person and as a therapist.

If I’m not cooking, drawing or singing, the most likely scenario is that I’m playing board games. Right now, I’m busy learning and writing content for Wemby, an online psychology platform. During my weekends I’m Game Master in Exit Madrid, a escape rooms company.

Wemby provides online therapy and wellbeing services delivered by experienced psychologists. Our team is here to help you start building your balance and emotional wellbeing today.

Download the app, complete a matching questionnaire and get paired with a therapist with the best licensed professional to match your needs.

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