Suicide is a heavy topic that you may be able to ignore if it hasn’t effected you directly. Unfortunately, I have been directly effected by suicide and I’ve been passionate about speaking out on Mental Health Awareness and how to prevent suicide for the past 14 years now as a result of my experience witnessing one of my good friends commit suicide when I was in the house.
A suicide occurs every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The organization also reports that 800,000 people die of suicide each year worldwide—a rate that has increased 35% in the past 20 years.
Suicide and work are two topics that are often associated with one another in this regard; in fact, the WHO identifies job-related issues as the second leading cause of suicide after relationship problems. Despite this association, however, many employees report lacking the necessary training to deal with those suffering from mental illness or who are at risk of harming themselves or others in the workplace.
This blog is centered around how to prevent suicide by taking steps at work to help increase employee mental well-being and stress management.
What You Need to Know to Prevent Suicide
Today, one of every 40 Americans is impacted by suicide. It’s time we acknowledge and address how suicide relates to work. A positive mental state will help with stress, self-esteem, relationships, and performance.
If a business isn’t implementing processes to promote positive mental health, then it needs to start today in order to prevent suicide.
There are many ways businesses can promote mental well-being such as preventing suicidal ideation in employees and providing the tools to learn how to manage triggers in and outside of the workplace. The most important thing a business can do to prioritize suicide prevention is to focus on mental health by educating their employees on how to manage emotions, stress and co-relating with others. Mental well-being must be an ongoing topic of conversation as suicide rates are predicted to rise.
One of the main reasons suicide rates are increasing is because many people who have suicidal thoughts don’t know what to do or think there is no other way out. Suicide prevention isn’t one and done; rather prevention must be weaved into daily workplace culture. Previously in this blog, I wrote about the power of utilizing a “WIFLE“. You can learn more about the power of a WIFLE by clicking the link here but just know that WIFLE is an acronym that stands for What I Feel Like Expressing. You may use a WIFLE when starting meetings to give your team the opportunity to express what’s on their heart and mind which actually does wonders in improving psychological safety.
The KEY is to find mindful practices that make sense for your culture that will help to increase mental well-being and prevent suicide. In this blog, we’ll continue to unpack strategies to tackle this increasingly crucial issue.
Harvard Business Review on Suicide & Business
The Harvard Business Review did a study on suicide as it relates to the world of work with the aim of uncovering the work-related factors that can “predict employee’s suicidal thoughts and behaviors”.
The top 2 causes of suicidal ideation were social and psychological pain.
SOCIAL PAIN: According to the study, “social pain occurs because individuals are unable to establish meaningful connections with others or perceive themselves to be a burden to others”.
PSYCHOLOGICAL PAIN: Relating to the mental suffering and/or extreme anguish.
The truth is workplaces are at its core a social environment and if it’s a toxic culture; it may be putting its employees at extreme risk. Efforts to improve psychological safety within a work environment is not an option; it’s mandatory if you care about the mental health of your employees.
Below are some ways workplaces may contribute to suicidal ideation without even realizing it:
- Interpersonal Relations Within the Culture (co-workers, managers, vendors and even clients)
- Work/Family Conflict (When work blends into family life and it causes tension/stress/anger/anxiety etc. within the family dynamic)
- Stressful and/or Toxic Work Environment
- Burnout & Fatigue
- Unsatisfying Scope of Work
Implementing SOUL/Life Balance as a Means of Preventing Suicide
In 2019, I was faced with one of the most numbing depressions I’ve encountered in this life (you can read about this in more depth in this series of blogs I wrote back in 2019). On the surface everything was great. I had a dream life in many ways … living in Silicon Valley, running a million dollar company while working less than 4 hours a day, dating an NFL cheerleader, and pretty much had everything I was seeking for so long. The problem was, I was focused on the wrong things.
I was focused on achieving success by doing the things I thought I was supposed to be doing; rather than really asking myself what it was I desired.
Most of all, I was obsessed with working. I was a workaholic in all the ways one could be a workaholic. I lived, breathed and even woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I could grow my business. Eventually, I did crack the code and get to the point of having to just check-in on the business for just a couple hours a day. I had achieved this state of “Work/Life Balance”, yet I felt more empty than ever before … How could this be?
This sent me on an inward journey that led me to the conclusion that I was disconnected from my Soul… hence the message of SOUL/Life Balance was born.
Fast forwarding three years later and In February of this year (2022), I released my 4th book entitled SOUL/Life Balance and it immediately became a #1 Bestselling Book on Amazon! More on that here: SoulLifeBalanceBook.com.
The main message of SOUL/Life Balance is to put yourself first, always while simultaneously reframing your relationship to work by realizing work is part of our lives. If you think about it; it doesn’t really make sense to put work before the daily obligations of one’s life and what’s even more important is to have some sort of connection that is beyond the scope of work/business and daily obligations.
The practice of SOUL/Life Balance is just that; it’s a practice. It’s not an end destination, it’s a way of living your life day to day to ask yourself “How can I feed my Soul today?”.
The following are 3 ways you can bridge the gap between mindfulness and workplace culture by implementing your own form of SOUL/Life Balance.
#1: Providing Resources for Mindful Practices to Prevent Suicide
The number one way to improve mental health and prevent suicide within a business is to provide resources for mindful practices. Giving your employees time to step away from their desk and focusing on themselves will help them come back feeling refreshed, more confident, and more satisfied with their job.
Mindful practices include anything that increases a person’s awareness of their body, the present moment, or their environment such as yoga, meditation, or even mindful walking.
Some common ways to encourage mindful practices are to provide mats for use at work or workplace events like Workplace Yoga Wednesday. Encourage your employees by letting them know that you understand how stressful work can be and want them to take care of themselves.
If you’d like to implement a yoga or meditation practice within your organization, send me an email (Sam@SamKabert.com) to discuss how I could create a custom program for your team.
In addition to providing mindful resources; you might consider encouraging your team to make healthy food choices. At this point, there’s no excuse to not know the benefits of eating healthy and at a minimum as a manager, leader or even owner of a business; it would make sense for us as leaders to go above and beyond to educate our employees of eating healthy. This can be done by bringing an outside nutritional speaker into your organization or even having a team-building workshop to cook healthy foods with an outside Chef.
#2 Addressing Social Pain
It is no secret that human beings need to feel connected to others in order to function, meaning isolation is often a precursor for suicide. Strategies for easing social pain in a workplace setting are crucial for reducing suicidal ideation.
The key is to create a positive and kind work environment. Yes, we are running businesses that have deadlines and along with that comes stress; and when we intentionally create the intention of making our workplace culture more positive we will see results. How can you alleviate the stress and toxicity in your workplace?
#3 Addressing Psychological Pain
There are a few ways to ease psychological pain in a workplace environment and culture. A first step is for employers to develop a culture that encourages employees to work through their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs without fear of judgment or repercussions.
Next, we can ensure that workplaces provide adequate mental health resources for employees- not just access to professionals who can help with life issues but also educate co-workers on how to support each other better.
Lastly, business owners and supervisors can implement programs that keep workers active and socially engaged outside of work in order to promote healthy living. Encourage exercise, positive thinking, and participation in activities such as sports leagues and community service projects.
Employees can play an important role by recognizing when they need to seek professional assistance and getting help before it becomes too late. While many employers offer resources like confidential counseling services or wellness centers to their staff, most of these offerings go unnoticed until it’s too late if employees aren’t proactive about seeking out care.
Self-awareness is key in order to prevent suicide; if you’re feeling suicidal you may want to try talking about your thoughts openly with a trusted friend or family member who will listen carefully rather than act on what you say immediately.
Resources and Further Reading to Prevent Suicide
As soon as a person begins to have suicidal thoughts, they should tell someone close to them. Contacting a mental health professional would be an excellent way to find relief and prevent suicide. If none of these actions work, the best option may be suicide intervention which is being done by phone. As of July of this year, you may dial the number 988 on your phone to be directly connected to a suicide prevention hotline (more info on that here).
What can you do if someone is feeling suicidal?
- Don’t leave the person alone. Connect them with a mental health professional immediately or seek out their physician.
- Try not to show your fear, stress, or worry. The person may interpret that as a sign that they have no hope of being helped, which will lead them to refuse help.
- Offer tangible assistance such as money for bus fare, gas for their car, food if they’re hungry or taking time off work so they don’t have any burdens or responsibilities at that moment.
- Don’t keep secrets from someone who is struggling with suicidal ideation – this could lead them to conclude that you will never be there for them when things get tough.
Please see the links below for resources to learn more about suicide prevention.
- USA: 1-800-273-8255 (CHAT)
- U.S. Crisis text line: 741741 text HOME
- United Kingdom: 116 123
- Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
- List of suicide crisis lines around the world (Wikipedia)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Suicide is a massive topic and it’s one that we must start addressing without the lens of it being taboo. It starts with us. If this resonates with you, please make the necessary actions in your life to bring this issue to the forefront. Whether it means sharing this blog with a friend, calling a friend that you know needs support, or talking with your HR team to make some shifts in your organization to address this topic ahead on!
Improving the mental well-being and learning to prevent suicide in your workplace culture is easier than it may seem. To learn more about how I can help in your quest of addressing the Mental Health Crisis, check out my website SamKabert.com.
To a More Fulfilling Life,
P.S. For more, check out this FREE guide with the 3 Undeniably Simple Tactics to Practice SOUL/Life Balance.