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Suicide at Work: Importance of Mental Health Initiatives

Suicide at Work: Navigating the Complex Issue of Employee Well-Being

By Kellie Rondon on Jul 10, 2024
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Employers can play a vital role in suicide prevention, and the increasing workplace focus on employee well-being and mental health couldn’t come at a better time. Almost 50,000 Americans took their own lives in 2022 – more than any other year in U.S. history. That equates to more than 130 suicides every day. 

Another staggering statistic comes from the National Institute of Mental Health: More than one in every five U.S. adults, or around 58 million people, live with mental illness.

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Addressing Suicide in the Workplace 

Providing psychological safety and suicide prevention efforts in the workplace makes sense for many reasons. Because working adults spend more waking hours at work than on any other activity besides sleeping, employers have both a responsibility and an opportunity to promote mental health and well-being and to step in if they see a team member struggling with mental health challenges. 

According to a 2019 report commissioned by the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, adopting proven strategies that improve mental health costs less in the long run than doing nothing. It also underscores employers’ roles as important stakeholders with a vested interest in the well-being of their communities.   

RELATED: How to Handle a Disgruntled Employee >>

Employer Costs of Poor Employee Mental Health 

Organizations that don’t actively support employees’ mental well-being often experience:  

  • Employee disengagement 
  • Increased absenteeism 
  • Poor performance 
  • Low morale 
  • Higher turnover 

  • Safety concerns 

These challenges translate to increased direct and indirect costs for employers – from more obvious expenses like medical claims to the harder-to-calculate costs associated with employees missing work or making mistakes on the job. 

According to the CEO Roundtable, mental health efforts can save companies $2 to $4 for every dollar invested in prevention and early intervention. Depression alone is estimated to cost American employers billions of dollars annually. That’s because depressed employees miss more days of work and are less productive than their mentally healthy counterparts.  

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Workplace Effects on Mental Health 

Besides disorders like depression, environmental factors play a role in mental illness. For example, there’s a correlation between workplace bullying and suicide. High workplace stress, burnout and staff shortages that demand more hours from workers also can contribute to suicidal ideation. 

The business and moral imperatives for employers to support employee mental health are clear.  

Small to mid-size companies are both more vulnerable and better positioned to address this challenge. With fewer employees, even one person facing a mental health crisis can have a profound negative impact on other workers and on the business.  

The advantage for small businesses, however, is that they may be able to more easily identify and address mental health concerns among their ranks. Smaller teams tend to have closer relationships, and smaller companies have more flexibility to offer personalized support for each team member.  

To better care for their employees, small business leaders should educate themselves about mental health, how it impacts their workplaces and what they can do to foster a culture that prioritizes mental health.  

RELATED: Workplace Violence - Most Active Shooter Incidents Occur at Work >>

Take Action for Employee Mental Health

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will help you do just that. Of course, if you want to start doing more to support employee mental health and well-being today, the HR experts at Axcet HR Solutions are standing by to help. We’ll work alongside you to implement best practices for creating a mentally healthy, fully engaged workforce. Contact us to schedule a consultation

If you or someone you know is in crisis, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can provide help and support. Simply dial or text 988. 

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Written by Kellie Rondon

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