Mental Health Matters: Suicide Awareness
Suicide awareness day is observed each year on 10th September giving us a reminder of how important it is to understand, recognise and address suicide risk factors. This day is dedicated to raising suicide awareness, prevention, the importance of mental health, reducing stigma, promoting understanding and supporting survivors of suicide and others who have been affected by suicide.
9% of employees are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Putting that into perspective – for every 50 employees, 4 are thinking of suicide/self-harm.
As we all know, suicide does not discriminate and affects people from all walks of life. Every person is unique, so are their triggers, traumas and experiences. People that are struggling are usually masters at disguising their troubles because they don’t want to affect anyone else. This is why sometimes you might not notice people are dealing with a lot.
However, there are some subtle signs we can look out for and with increased awareness and sensitivity, we can help identify when those around us are struggling and offer support where we can.
10 Mental Health Awareness Signs to keep an eye on:
- Changes in behaviour – if you have notice someone who is usually smiley and extroverted become withdrawn or vice versa it could mean there is something underlying.
- Mood swings – increased mood swings, irritability, anxiousness or sadness may mean someone is struggling. It is important to note that when people have outbursts it is more to do with what is going on in their head instead of what it may appear to be (how the outburst seemingly started).
- Personal hygiene – sometimes when people are suffering, everything else can move to the bottom of the list. If you notice someone isn’t brushing their teeth as much or wearing crumpled clothes it can be a sign they’re in survival mode.
- Lack of focus – sometimes people can struggle to concentrate/focus when other things are going on. Sudden decline in performance/output could be a sign something is going on behind the scenes.
- Neglecting Responsibilities – it’s hard to find energy to care or be motivated to do things. If someone who is usually reliable starts to let their to do list pile up or avoids going to work it can mean they’re not feeling themselves.
- Isolating – watch out for those who are isolating themselves from social situations or friends and family. The person that is struggling may feel they’re doing themselves a favour by withdrawing as they might be ashamed or run down but studies show that isolation actually makes you feel worse if you’re down.
- Lack of interest – if you see someone lose interest in something that once brought them joy it could mean an underlying mental health condition.
- Negativity- everyone pokes fun at themselves from time to time, but if you notice someone constantly criticising themselves or talking about the worst-case scenario all the time it’s likely they aren’t feeling great.
- Substance abuse – increased use of alcohol or other substances could be someone’s way of trying to cope with mental challenges.
- Physical symptoms- a change in someone’s normal eating behaviour/appetite, energy levels or sleep patterns can be linked to poor mental health.
If you are deeply concerned about someone, reach out to them or your employer. You can also call Samaritans if someone you know is really struggling: Samaritans 116 123 if someone is in immediate danger, call 999.
The workplace should be a safe space where people can be their authentic selves and thrive in a supportive environment. 9% of employees are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Putting that into perspective – for every 50 employees, 4 are thinking of suicide/self-harm.
Promoting Suicide Awareness Day helps your people know you care for their mental wellbeing and you’re striving to break down the stigma that’s still attached to mental health and suicide.
Here are some ways we can set up workplaces for better mental health promotion:
- Communication is key – make use of posters or digital displays around physical spaces to help open mental health dialogue. Bring the topic up in meetings, consider holding a meeting dedicated to suicide awareness. Consider sending company wide emails with fact sheets or upcoming activities.
- First aid – your people leaders should be well equipped to take action should something arise. Offering Mental Health First Aid training to your employees can help create a safer space for all and increase confidence within the workplace to deal with mental health issues.
- Training- consider offering communication training that helps people look out for one another and opens up mental health dialogue. Active listening skills are extremely important for people to open up and trust one another. Higher quality communication means deeper interpersonal relationships and contributes to a more positive employee experience.
- Wellbeing champions- if you haven’t already, set up some wellbeing champions within the office. These champions will be a point of contact for people to seek guidance on resources or even just those wanting to start a conversation. Your wellbeing champions act as a visual reminder and keeps mental health front of mind for your workplace.
- Reminders – send out reminders of what you have put in place to protect and serve employee wellbeing. Signpost resources and suggest different things people can do to take care of their mental health.
- Fundraise – encourage staff members to partake in fundraising activities for local suicide charities/helplines. Fundraising raises awareness and is a good way to cement corporate social responsibility. Additionally, giving back to the community may help those struggling with their own experiences surrounding suicide (Ie losing a loved one).
- Time to talk – ask around. You may find someone willing to talk about their own mental health and experiences. Talking openly about struggles not only helps others open up, it sends a resounding message to your staff that this is a safe space and an environment that encourages people to do so.
- Mental Health Advocacy – Introduce mental health days. it is considered normal to call in sick when you have a cold or stomach bug. Why isn’t it normal to call in if you’re not feeling you? Introducing mental health days supports your workplace and giving people the time, they need to reset will help prevent a longer absence in future.
Suicide is an international public health issue that demands our attention. One thing that is abundantly clear as we conclude suicide awareness is that knowledge and compassion are our most effective weapons against this silent and devastating adversary.
World Suicide Day serves as a reminder of our combined ability to change the world and people’s lives within in it. We have touched on the warning signs and how crucial mental health education and activism are in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.
Suicide prevention requires a lifetime of dedication and united efforts – no one can survive alone. As a digital health, mental health and wellbeing provider we promise to keep working to spread awareness of mental health, lessen stigma and offer helpful tools and a complete care pathway for those in need. At Spectrum.Life our mission is to change and save as many lives as possible.
Remember that there is help and if you are struggling reach out to those around you and try to overcome any fear of seeking professional guidance. Do your best to support those around you and be the safe space where people can open up. You never know the true value of a simple conversation.
Let’s work together to build a world where mental health is valued, where each day is happier and full of more compassion.