When a colleague dies by suicide or makes an attempt on their life, it can have a devastating effect. Your team may struggle to come to terms with the loss or wonder if they could have intervened.
Knowing the risk factors may help you recognize when a member of your team is struggling. Risks include:
- A recent loss, particularly if it involved suicide, or a financial setback or job loss
- A change in behavior, habits, appearance, or work performance, such as an outgoing person suddenly becoming withdrawn
- Depression, which may manifest at work through chronic fatigue, talk of hopelessness, attendance problems, missing deadlines, or a lack of concentration
- An absence of social support, which may be intensified if the person now works from home or has had a recent change in living arrangements
- Multiple simultaneous problems, such as losing a parent or loved one while also coping with a health crisis
- A history of depression or previous suicide attempts, alcohol or drug abuse, an impulsive nature, or a family history that includes suicide, violence, or abuse
While a person may have one or more risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that they are contemplating suicide. However, if you observe several of these behaviors in a short period of time, it is best to take action. Remember to:
- Pay attention. Suicidal comments or references, such as “What’s the point,” “It’s no use,” or “I’d be better off dead” should be taken seriously.
- Trust your instincts. If you are worried about someone’s behavior, or if another team member expresses concern, seek assistance.
- Contact LifeMatters. The LifeMatters Management Consultation Service can assess the situation and recommend appropriate steps. Your HR and Medical departments can also provide assistance and resources.
- Avoid becoming entangled in a personal situation. Once you have addressed any immediate risks and made a referral to LifeMatters, take a step back. Your focus should be on helping the individual stay on track so they can maintain stable employment. For many people who are struggling, work provides both financial stability and the comfort of a regular routine.
- Protect privacy. Only share information about the situation on a need-to-know basis.
Helping someone who is having suicidal thoughts could bring up past losses or unearth difficult memories. LifeMatters can help you cope with your personal reaction to the situation. Call 24/7/365.