The recent deaths of several sports heroes have put issues of mental health, addictions and suicide in the headlines. There is so much we can do. Each year up to 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada.
Awareness and discussion are key. Most people provide some kind of warning, be it physical, behavioural or emotional. Often these warning signs are apparent in the workplace. Being aware as a leader, and providing appropriate education and information to all employees, enables those in the workplace to act on any fears and may serve to save a life.
Often, all an individual considering suicide needs is to feel cared for and supported which is demonstrated when an employer approaches and talks to them. Offering support and resources can also make all the difference in the world.
What Can Employers Do?
What to Look For?
- Talking about Suicide – the person thinking about suicide may say things like “I wish I were dead” or “I can’t take it anymore.”
- Negative Thoughts – the person talks about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless, talk about feelings of hopelessness about the future.
- Putting Affairs in Order – the person is appearing to be ‘tidying up loose ends”, such as saying good-bye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
- Changes in Behaviour – the person demonstrates withdrawal, increased desire to be left alone, mood swings, or suddenly calmer.
- Changes in Performance – the person seems unsure, complains about being misunderstood or appears confused, shows lack of interest in the job or changes in performance.
What Can You Do?
- Be attentive and reach out to the person. You never know when you might meet someone who is so upset and confused that they may be thinking about suicide. A professional will be able to help, but you may be the first contact with a suicidal person. Call us at Mosaic Counselling and Family Services for consultation.
- Take the person seriously.
- Remain objective and nonjudgmental.
- Assure the person that something can be done. Never promise to not tell anyone.
- Be aware of warning signs.
- Get help. Offer support and encourage hope. Never do it alone. Ask the person to find help immediately. Offer to accompany them.
- Be pro-active. Take a SafeTALK course or a 2 day ASIST course, a suicide first aid course offered through CMHIA.
If you think the person is in immediate danger:
- Do not leave the person alone until you have found help (this may require mobilizing other employees or the person’s friends or family).
- If a crisis seems imminent, call 911 or accompany the person to the nearest emergency department.
- Say clearly that the person with you “is a danger to themselves.”
- Do not hesitate to make such a call if you suspect the person may be on the verge of harming him or herself.
In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
For Waterloo Region only Call:
- Crisis Services of Waterloo Region:
- Distress Centre (Waterloo Region):
- Youth Line (Waterloo Region):