Taking Action To Prevent Suicide: An Employer’s Guide
In order to prevent suicide, employers should approach the issue with care as it is a complex and sensitive one. Suicidal thoughts and mental health concerns can easily be addressed in the workplace if the right policies and procedures, suicide prevention training are in place. In this blog we will have chance to look at suicide rates in Victoria.
Our team at WHS and Training Compliance Solutions helps employers support people struggling with mental health and suicide thoughts. In order to help you create a supportive workplace environment, we created this guide on suicide prevention at work.
Let’s take a look at the suicide rate in Victoria
- The number of suicides in Victoria in 2021 was 675 (518 males, 157 females). The number of deaths decreased from 694 in 2020. There were 756 suicides in 2022, an increase of 694 over the previous year.
- Averaging 58 suicides per month over the past five years, suicide deaths have remained consistent in Victoria.
- Among those 65 and older, the biggest growth in the last year was 32 percent.
- In Victoria, the number of people aged 45 to 54 increased by 21%.
As in previous years, men continue to outnumber women in suicide deaths in 2022, with 560 males and 196 females dying by suicide.
As compared to 2021, 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria died by suicide in 2022 – a significant decline compared to the 34 deaths in 2021. On the other hand, when an analysis of longer term data is conducted, this remains an alarming rate.
According to a report by the Coroners Court of Victoria, 108 Indigenous people have died by suicide by 2022, compared to 3429 non-Indigenous people. During this time period, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rates averaged 27.4 suicides per 100,000, while non-Indigenous suicide rates averaged 10.6.
Suicide Prevention at Work: Why is it so Important?
Working environments should be places where we feel secure and supported, as they are often where we spend a considerable amount of time. The suicide rate in Australia alone in 2022 was 3,144 – a preventable tragedy that kills far too many people each year. Employers need to take action on suicide prevention in the workplace more than ever due to the tragic rise in suicide deaths.
When developing company policies and procedures, it’s important to think about how suicide death affects the colleagues of the person who died.
In order to prevent suicide, workplaces need to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health and suicide thoughts, and they need to provide resources and support to employees who are struggling.
Suicide Prevention: What Does An Employer Have To Do?
When employers create an environment where there is open communication about mental health, they will also ensure that their employees know where to go for help if they are having problems.
As part of employer training, the company can also provide managers and employees with training on recognizing the signs and how to begin a conversation about mental health issues when someone is struggling with their mental health.
Also, if your workplace does not have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), it would be a valuable investment for you to make sure that it does. Employee Assistance Programs are organisations that provide confidential counselling and support to employees.
In order for human resources departments to be properly equipped to make appropriate workplace adjustments during times of stress or recommend mental health professionals to employees, they need to understand suicide risk factors, mental illness warning signs, and potential occupational health hazards.
How Can Suicidal Thoughts Be Detected?
People who are experiencing thoughts of suicide do not always exhibit the same warning signs. An individual who is struggling may exhibit some common behaviours or changes in behaviour.
People who may have suicidal thoughts may exhibit the following warning signs or risk factors:
- Discussing suicide thoughts
- A feeling of hopelessness or burdensomeness
- Absenteeism and tardiness due to mental health issues
- Increasing signs of alcohol or substance abuse
- Social withdrawal and withdrawal from work.
The Best Way To Talk To Your Employee About Suicide
In addition to being beneficial to employees, talking about mental health at work can be beneficial to them as well. It is important to speak with an employee if you have concerns regarding their mental health and believe they may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. The process of having this conversation can be challenging, but there are some steps that can be taken to facilitate the process.
A manager should keep the following points in mind when discussing mental health with an employee:
- Make sure you’re in a private place so you won’t be interrupted
- Let the employee know that you are concerned about their wellbeing and ask them how they are feeling
- You should listen to them without judging what they have to say
- Encourage them to reach out for help and assure them that they are not alone
- During appropriate situations when they are responding well to your support, ask them if they have ever contemplated harming themselves or others.
- Help them cope with their stress by offering some reasonable workplace adjustments or seeking support from a mental health professional.
It is critical to have CALM Suicide Intervention Skills on hand during crisis situations. Being calm and non-judgemental while allowing the employee to speak about their feelings is essential to this process. Furthermore, the employee should be provided with a safety plan, and appropriate support services should be referred to.
Strategies for the prevention of suicide within organisations
Develop an open mental health culture in the workplace
A culture of open discussion about mental health is one of the most important elements of supporting employees and preventing suicide in the workplace. In order to normalise the conversation around mental health and combat mental health stigma, employers should encourage their employees to discuss their mental health openly.
Creating a good work culture around mental health can be done in a number of ways, like:
- Make it clear that it’s okay to talk to your employees about their mental health.
- Be inclusive and diverse by including mental health.
- Supporting mental health issues at work with policies and procedures.
- Educating employees and managers about mental health.
- Regularly meeting with employees one-on-one and checking in.
- Work/life balance and regular breaks for employees are important for promoting good mental health.
Would you like to learn more about professional suicide prevention training in Victoria?
One of the goals we strive to achieve at WHS and Training Compliance Solutions is suicide prevention. By enabling colleagues and employers to effectively support those with mental health issues, we enable them to live better lives.
Contact us if you are interested in implementing workplace suicide prevention through CALM Suicide Intervention Skills and CALM Suicide Awareness Get in touch today to find out more about our other courses such as online and elearning.