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Workplace Suicide Toolbox Talk

Learn about the problem of suicide in the workplace, how to try to prevent it, and how to check up on each other to fight the tragedy of workplace suicide.

Workplace Suicide Safety Talk

Over the last decade, suicide rates have climbed in number. There were an estimated 121 people in the United States alone that took their own life each day. Over a year’s time, that is 44,000 people that die from suicide. In today’s society, this has become a problem even in the workplace.

Workplace Suicide Statistics

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) Since 1992 reports have been made about suicide in the workplace. The number reached an all-time high in 2013 with 242 suicides. The number of fatalities in the workplace has been decreasing over time, but suicides are continuing to rise.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics did a study on the suicides that occurred between the years 2011 and 2013. There were some common factors in all of the suicides, such as:

  • 90% of the deaths were male

  • 22% were self-employed employees

  • 78% were salary/wage employees

  • 76% of deaths were white

  • 45-54 years old was the common age range

  • 35-44 years old came in second

Suicidal Thoughts And How To Process Them

If you are someone who is dealing with suicidal thoughts or feelings, don’t hide it. Know that there is help available for you. With the proper attention, you can overcome these feelings. Explained below are some ideas on how to deal with these thoughts and feelings.

Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

If you are afraid to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-8255 and they are there to answer the phones 24 hours a day. Never hesitate to call that number if you are in need.

Don’t bottle the feelings that you are having up and not let someone know. Even if it is someone from this hotline number. There are people who can help you and care for you.

Find A Safe Place

When you are feeling suicidal, find a safe place to go. If you cannot tell anyone about how you are feeling, at least find a friend you can visit with. This way you are not alone. If there is nowhere for you to go, make sure your home is safe. Get rid of or lock up anything that can be used to hurt yourself.

Don’t Act Immediately On Thoughts

The thoughts that you are having can feel very strong in your head. Make yourself a promise that you will not act promptly on your feelings. Give yourself time to process what you are feeling and thinking. During this time, you can consider calling someone or getting help.

No Drugs Or Alcohol

When you are having suicidal thoughts, using things that can alter your mind is not a good idea. You want to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Thinking as clear as you can is important. These things can just escalate the situation.

Things Can Change

What you are feeling and thinking right now doesn’t have to be forever. The emotions that are overtaking you at this moment can change. It may just be a bad day or a bad week.

Feeling down and like you have nothing to live for is a lie. Things can change for you, there is help available. Get the help you need and allow your thoughts to change.

Most Common Time For Suicide

There are certain times of the year that are more common for suicides to happen. It can vary from person to person and what they are dealing with. A birthday, anniversary, or occasion that has occurred in their life can be a trigger. People deal with all kinds of different situations outside of work.

It has been found that suicide is the most likely to happen during the spring and summer months. Different seasons are also known to be more depressing for people. The important thing is to pay attention to your coworkers. Don’t dismiss the suicidal comments that they make to you.

What to Look for in Coworkers

It may not be completely apparent that someone is suicidal. People will try to hide their feelings to the best of their ability. Many believe that you can only be suicidal if you are sad and never smiling, that is not how it works. There are some signs and symptoms that can notice in people, such as:

  • Talking about having trouble sleeping

  • A recent tragic event

  • Thinking they are always a burden

  • Drastically changing their appearance

  • Makes comments about suicide

  • Missing work often

  • Alienating themselves

  • Irritability and anxiety

  • Overthinking situations

  • Seeming preoccupied

There are many things that you may notice in people, but also know sometimes people have bad days. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast, but be aware. If someone makes a lot of sudden changes or comments that concern you, get help. If you are suspecting an issue, it is better to try and help than do nothing.

How to Help a Coworker

Most of the time, people are not going to tell you right away that they are suicidal. It is a personal fight that they are having with themselves. If you do have a coworker confide in you about their thoughts, don’t blow them off. Take them seriously and listen to them.

It can be very hard to talk to someone about this topic. You are unsure of the right words to say and your ability to help them. If you do not feel that you are capable of helping them, find someone who can.

Communication With Employees

One of the best ways to stay in the loop with what is going on around your workplace is to communicate. If you notice that a coworker is not acting right or seems off, talk with them. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are okay.

When you are concerned that someone might harm themselves, asking questions is important. Show your concern and see if there is anything that you can do for them. Be available to talk to them or figure out any way that you might be able to help them.

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