World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Depression and suicide sadly hit the headlines last month when we lost much-loved actor and comedian Robin Williams. With World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September this year, it’s time to work towards a world where fewer people suffer in silence. World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual awareness day promoted by the IASP (International Association for Suicide Prevention). Suicide is a highly emotive subject, but one we could all benefit from discussing more openly. A myth has been perpetuated that talking about suicide leads to suicide, in reality the opposite is often true. Many people have been affected by suicide in some way. Perhaps you knew someone who died from suicide, or know someone who has felt suicidal. Maybe you have felt suicidal yourself. However you have been touched by this sensitive topic, it is certain to have had a significant impact on your life. If you or your employees are struggling, whether this be low mood, hopelessness, loss of energy or confusion about your thoughts please know that you do not have to be alone with your feelings. There are organisations that will provide support and listen in confidence without judgement. If you prefer not to talk to a friend, family member, partner or colleague, you can get in touch with Health Assured 24/7. Sometimes it really does help to talk.

Top Tips

Here are some straightforward approaches that can be implemented within your organisation, to promote awareness, make suicide less of a taboo and create a safe environment for your employees.

  • Encourage an open-door policy at work so people feel able to talk in confidence.
  • Promote your in-house EAP services, to help employees with mental health issues.
  • Ensure policies and procedures for supporting staff members with mental health issues are appropriate and robust.
  • Write an article for your intranet or newsletter, or a blog post for your website.
  • Be aware of the signs of depression and consider training around mental health.

Bereavement

On the list of huge life events which organisations have to deal with, bereavement is perhaps the most universally experienced and most difficult to effectively manage. When an employee loses a loved one, or when a member of the workforce dies, the emotional and practical impact can run deeper than anybody could predict. How can business cope more effectively with bereavement? Bereavement, whether sudden or anticipated, through illness, accident or suicide, and whether in the young or the old, is utterly devastating. The bereaved friends, family members and colleagues will go through a vast range of emotions from anger, confusion, grief and incomprehension. Grieving can’t be scheduled or predicted, but it must be managed. Employers need to plan ahead when it comes to bereavement management; from immediate practical and emotional support to access to grief counselling. Bereavement is one fact of life which is sadly certain to affect your workforce. Developing an appropriate bereavement policy as part of your in-house EAP and wellness system is crucial.

Train managers, HR staff and team leaders in listening skills and offer further training for individuals who are less comfortable with delivering bereavement support. Develop a clear and sensitive bereavement policy and ensure that all departments and teams are aware of it. Consider making more than one person a main point of contact, in case a clash of personalities prevents openness and trust. Be flexible when supporting employees and considering their needs. This may mean keeping in regular contact out of office hours.

A good bereavement policy which is well-managed will benefit individual employees, departments and teams, and your business as a whole. For example, staff members will feel supported as their productivity across roles and responsibilities returns with time. From a practical perspective, absenteeism, sick leave and longer periods of ill-health will be reduced, along with a decrease in staff turnover. All of this contributes towards a better corporate culture and increased staff morale. Ultimately, everyone benefits when a business demonstrates how caring and understanding it is towards it employees.

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