Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

Over 40,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States, resulting in the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can save lives.

While the subject can be difficult to approach, it is important that employers do so, considering that the vast majority of individuals who are suicidal often display cues and warning signs.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, warning signs of acute suicide risk include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill oneself; and or,
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Additional warning signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets

Tips for Employers

  • Provide convenient and confidential access to resources. Make sure your employees know how to access your EAP and how it might be able to help with a variety of situations. Make sure a mechanism for referral is in place.
  • Be observant. There are many warning signs that a person may be thinking about ending his or her life. Providing access to educational information can empower you and your employees to react and respond when they see a coworker in trouble.

Your EAP is an excellent source for help

Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free and confidential assessment and counseling services. If you are struggling with issues that feel beyond your resources or you have had suicidal thoughts, reach out to your EAP.