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World Suicide Prevention Day 2023: How to Support a Suicidal Colleague

Approximately 800,000 people take their lives each year, and many more make suicidal attempts. In fact, suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally for all age groups, the second for young people aged 15-29 and the fifth for those aged 30-49.


World Suicide Prevention Day 2023, observed annually on September 10th, is a poignant reminder of the global commitment to addressing one of the most pressing public health issues. This day serves as a platform for individuals, communities, and organisations to come together and raise awareness about the importance of mental health, suicide prevention, and destigmatising conversations surrounding mental wellbeing. The running theme of 2023 is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ underscoring the significance of actively engaging in actions that generate hope and inspire change.


Through educational initiatives, outreach campaigns, and supportive events, World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 encourages open dialogue, emphasises the significance of early intervention, and highlights available resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts. By fostering understanding, compassion and unity, this awareness day aims to create a world where everyone can find the help they need and where the darkness of despair is replaced with light of hope.


How Do I Know if Someone is Suicidal?


The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex. Research shows 1 in 5 people have suicidal thoughts. When someone is contemplating suicide, their words and actions can give clues that they are at risk of hurting themselves.


Changes in behaviour

There is now a greater awareness that subtle shifts in behaviour can serve as potential indicators of distress. People have become more attuned to changes in communication patterns, such as expressing feelings of hopelessness or isolation, discussing a desire to die, or even giving away possessions. By sensitively observing and understanding these behavioural changes, individuals, friends and family, and colleagues are better equipped to intervene and provide timely assistance to those who may be at risk of suicide.


Social Withdrawal

The evolving approach to suicide prevention has prompted a more insightful perspective on social withdrawal as a potential red flag. Recognising that isolation can often be a precursor to deeper emotional distress, people are now more attuned to signs of social withdrawal in friends, family, or colleagues. This might involve someone gradually disengaging from social activities, avoiding interactions they once enjoyed, or becoming increasingly distant in their relationships. The heightened awareness emphasises the importance reaching out and initiating conversations with those who exhibit such behaviour, offering a support and non-judgemental space for them to share their feelings.


Increased Risky Behaviour

An increase in risky behaviour can be a worrisome sign that someone may be struggling emotionally. Engaging in activities that disregard personal safety, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, or extreme impulsiveness, may indicate a deeper emotional turmoil. Such behaviour can sometimes be an expression of the individual's internal distress or an attempt to cope with overwhelming feelings. It's essential to approach them with empathy and understanding, expressing concern for their wellbeing.


World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 serves as a critical platform for raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts, aiming to empower individuals to recognise and respond effectively.


How to Support a Colleague Who Feels Suicidal


Research shows that 9% of employees are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Supporting a colleague who is experiencing suicidal thoughts requires empathy, understanding, and a compassionate approach.


Choose a private and safe space

Selecting a private and secure space for engaging with a colleague who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts is a pivotal aspect of providing effective support. Opting for a quiet and confidential environment fosters an atmosphere of trust and openness, allowing the individual to share their feelings without fear of judgment or interruption. Whether it's a closed-door office, a quiet corner of a park, or a comfortable setting away from prying eyes, the goal is to create a safe haven where the colleague feels comfortable expressing their emotions. This environment should promote active listening and empathetic communication, with an emphasis on validating their experiences and emotions.


Stay connected

Maintaining a strong and compassionate connection with colleagues who might be grappling with suicidal thoughts is a vital aspect of providing meaningful support. Regular check-ins, whether through brief conversations, messages, or even virtual meet-ups, convey your genuine concern and willingness to listen. Staying connected demonstrates that you value their wellbeing and are committed to walking alongside them during their difficult times. Creating an environment of open communication, where they feel safe expressing their emotions without fear of judgment, fosters trust and reinforces the idea that they're not alone.


Provide helpline information

Offering helpline information to a colleague who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts can be a crucial step in providing them with immediate and professional support. In a compassionate and non-intrusive manner, you could share the contact details of local or national helplines specialised in mental health and suicide prevention. It has been shown that female employees are almost twice as likely as male employees to seek mental health support. By sharing information, you provide them with an extra layer of support, emphasising that seeking help is a sign of strength and that there are trained individuals ready to listen and offer guidance.


World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 serves as a vital resource for connecting individuals with various support venues and essential information. Through awareness campaigns, workshops, and online platforms, this day highlights available resources like helplines, counselling services, and mental health organisations.


How Can Wellity Support You?


This World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 we offer a session 'Preventing Suicide: Together' that will help attendees understand suicide and the importance of asking the right questions, in the right way. It will help delegates to feel more comfortable approaching uncomfortable subjects and the importance of having a potentially life-saving conversation.


Objectives:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of suicide as a leading cause of death globally.

  • Learn effective strategies for asking the right questions in a sensitive and compassionate manner.

  • Recognise the impact of open dialogue and compassionate support on promoting mental health and wellbeing.

  • Acquire practical skills and knowledge to feel more comfortable and equipped in approaching uncomfortable subjects.

For any information on the session we offer, contact us at hello@wellityglobal.com.


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