Julie Sharp, FEI Account Manager
“The workplace is the last crucible of sustained human contact for many of the 30,000 people who kill themselves each year in the United States. A co-worker’s suicide has a deep, disturbing impact on work mates. For managers, such tragedies pose challenges no one covered in management school.” – Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal
A quick review of academic and popular literature, including articles from Princeton University, The Atlantic, and National Review, indicates a disturbing increase in mortality rates among the middle-aged working class—particularly white males. Drug and alcohol addiction, chronic pain and inability to work, liver disease, and suicide all factor into this trend. Workplaces that are male-dominated, have a culture of substance abuse and involve dangerous work may be at higher risk, but suicide is an issue that impacts all kinds of workplaces and employee populations.
In addition to close family and friends, a suicide death impacts about 20 co-workers. Clearly, this is an urgent issue that demands our attention as leaders in our organizations.
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, founder of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation and an advocate for suicide prevention in the workplace, describes suicide prevention as a river that flows downward. Suicide prevention consists of upstream activities, midstream activities and downstream activities. The key is to get upstream from the crisis!
Here are some suggestions for what you can do:
Upstream Activities: Promoting Protection and Safety
Midstream Activities: Early and Effective Intervention
Downstream Activities: Crisis and Postvention
The responsibility for the prevention of suicide lies with all of us. As people of influence in our organizations, we can make a difference.
To talk more about how these ideas can be applied in your organization, call your EAP account manager today.