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Suicide Prevention Resource Center

People often spend a large portion of their day at a workplace and, in doing so, get to know other
employees over time. As a result, they may be in a good position to notice changes in behavior that
could suggest risk for suicide or other mental health problems. Workers are an employer’s most
valuable asset. Creating a culture of health and safety is both humane and good for business. Good
mental and physical health can help enhance workforce productivity. Many workplaces already have
structures and resources in place to help employees get the help they need, so suicide prevention can
be connected with them. The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach:

Workplace Suicide Prevention

Over two-thirds of the American population participates in the workforce; we often spend more
waking time working each week than we do with our families. When a workplace is working
well, it is often a place of belonging and purpose — qualities of our well-being that can sustain
us when life gets unmanageable. Many workplaces also provide access to needed mental health
resources through employee assistance programs and peer support.

Because suicidal thoughts are usually invisible, employers usually assume “it doesn’t happen
here” — until it does. Co-workers then are often forgotten grievers after a suicide. Rarely, until
now, did employers consider their role in suicide prevention. This report represents a pivotal
moment as workplaces have begun to shift their perspective on suicide from “not our business”
to a mindset that makes suicide prevention a health and safety priority.

Center for Workplace Mental Health

Suicide is a topic that must be brought out of the darkness in order to save lives. There are many
organizations working to dispel myths and bring hope and light to the subject so that those in
crisis feel comfortable seeking help to recover and reengage fully in life.
While the burden of suicide is carried by the working-age population, age 24-64, most
workplaces are relatively unprepared to help employees who are struggling with suicidal
thoughts or to assist colleagues following the death of a co-worker by suicide (CDC, 2010).
Thankfully, employers can play a powerful role in preventing suicide and responding
appropriately when tragedies occur.




Construction + Suicide Prevention: 10 Action Steps Companies Can Take to Save Lives

The Upstream, Midstream, Downstream Parable


Imagine you are walking along a river and hear a cry for help from someone drowning. You are startled but energized as you dive into the water to save him. Using all of your strength, you pull him to shore and start administering CPR. Your adrenaline is racing as he starts to regain consciousness.


Just as you are about get back on your feet, another frantic call comes from the river. You can’t believe it! You dive back into the river and pull out a woman who also needs life-saving care. Now a bit frazzled but still thrilled that you have saved two lives in one day, you mop the sweat from your brow.

When you turn around, however, you see more drowning people coming down the river, one after another. You shout out to all the other people around you to help. Now there are several people in the river with you – pulling drowning people out left and right.

One of the rescuers swims out to the drowning group and tries to start teaching them how to tread water. This strategy helps some, but not all. Everyone looks at each other, completely overwhelmed, wondering when this will stop.

Finally, you stand up and start running upstream. Another rescuer glares at you and shouts, “Where are you going? There are so many people drowning; we need everyone here to help!” To which you reply, “I’m going upstream to find out why so many people are falling into the river.”

When it comes to suicide prevention and mental health promotion, most of the focus is on pulling people out of the water. Many find themselves exhausted while resources are depleted.

Upstream Prevention Fosters Protective Factors & Prevents Problems

Step 1: Cultivate Bold Leadership

Step 2: Improve Mental Health Literacy

Step 3: Teach Coping Skills for Life Challenges

Step 4: Build a Caring Culture

Midstream Intervention Identifies Concerns Early & Refers Qualified Resources

Step 5: Promote Employee Assistance Programs & Other Mental Health Services

Step 6: Screen for Mental Health Conditions & Substance Misuse

Step 7: Train Supervisors & Others on How to Have Difficult Conversations


Downstream Intervention Responds to Mental Health & Suicide Crises with Compassion, Dignity & Effectiveness

Step 8: Promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Step 9: Manage Behavioral Health Crises in the Workplace

Step 10: Provide Effective & Compassionate Grief & Trauma Support After a Suicide

By Sally Spencer-Thomas 


(This is a 1-page exceprt from a 10-page article. KLF)

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