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Workplace Help May Be Key to Preventing Suicide | Matt Gonzales

​A new report by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and United Suicide Survivors International showed that employers don’t want to talk about suicide. But the workplace may be the best place to reach the demographic most at risk: middle-aged men.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among working-age adults in the U.S. Eighty percent of all deaths by suicide in the U.S. are among men and women ages 45 to 54, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Men in this age group are more likely than women to die by suicide.

“Most of these men have never had any contact with mental health services,” said Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, lead author of the report, who co-founded United Suicide Survivors International. “The workplace, thus, is the most cross-cutting system we have to intervene.”

However, few companies are providing education on matters related to suicide. According to the white paper, businesses avoid talking about suicide due to concerns that include the following:

  • “If we extend accommodations to one employee, we’ll have to offer the same perks to everyone else.”
  • “Employees in crisis often need extended leaves of absence, resulting in burdensome work disruption.”
  • “Senior leadership doesn’t find it relevant to the company’s bottom line.”
  • “Our HR team and managers have not been adequately trained to handle this issue.”
  • “We are not sure how to start the conversation about suicide prevention.”
  • “It is too intensive for workplaces to take…

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