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Suicide Prevention How We Can All Help In The Workplace Sponsored by the EAP National Joint Committee and the USPS EAP; Aug 2013 Susan M. Carney, APWU.

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Presentation on theme: "Suicide Prevention How We Can All Help In The Workplace Sponsored by the EAP National Joint Committee and the USPS EAP; Aug 2013 Susan M. Carney, APWU."— Presentation transcript:

1 Suicide Prevention How We Can All Help In The Workplace Sponsored by the EAP National Joint Committee and the USPS EAP; Aug 2013 Susan M. Carney, APWU Manuel L. Peralta, Jr. NALC Allen E. Mohl, USPS

2 For many people, suicide is the end result that begins with a thought: I could kill myself. Without intervention some suicidal people continue on a deadly journey of tunnel vision: suicide starts to become the only viable option. For the great majority, the desire for death isnt the main focus; rather, it is the need to stop unimaginable pain. Carson J. Spencer Foundation. or Carson

3 Every minute, someone in the United States attempts suicide. Every 16 minutes, someone dies by suicide. Worldwide, more people die by suicide than killed by war and homicide combined. Women attempt suicide twice as often as men. Men die by suicide 4 times as often as women. Information has been taken from Working Minds; Suicide Prevention in the Workplace by the Carson J Spencer Foundation (2009)

4 After the Department of Defense, the Postal Service is the next largest employer of veterans and disabled veterans. A report released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 22 veterans committed suicide in America each day in This estimation was up from 18 that had been largely reported since The report also stated that 70% of all veteran suicides were among men and women aged 50 or older. Being compassionate and connecting with our military employees is our goal, not to be hypersensitive in our relationships.

5 More than 90% of completed suicides have a contributing factor of a mental disorder. –Most commonly depression and/or alcohol abuse Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 people. Information has been taken from Working Minds; Suicide Prevention in the Workplace by the Carson J Spencer Foundation (2009)

6 Again, each suicide affects at least 6 people.… If you havent already, chances are possible that you could be personally affected by a suicide.

7 Know the warning signs and red flags. Take them seriously. Engage the person in getting help. You do not need to diagnose or understand the reasons. Just seek assistance from a professional.

8 Always sad Purposelessness Constant low mood Withdrawal Desperation Sleep problems Anxiety Weight loss/gain Pessimism Increase alcohol/drug use Impulsive/risky behavior Talk of suicide Giving away possessions Unexpected rage or anger

9 Many times, someone contemplating suicide gives early indications that should be heard and taken seriously: –I wish I were dead. –No one would miss me if I were gone. –If it werent for my family, I would just kill myself. –It isnt worth it anymore. Take any threat of suicide seriously.

10 Just because someone exhibits these signs, does not mean they are thinking of suicide. And, someone who is thinking of committing suicide may not display any of these signs. So … what do you do?

11 Suicide is a difficult subject to talk about with anyone – family, friends, co-workers … But it is a conversation that could SAVE A LIFE

12 Its personal. It is a difficult subject to talk about, whether you are a co-worker talking with a peer, a manager/supervisor talking with an employee, or a union steward/member talking with another employee. But, it is a conversation that must happen if someone is thinking about suicide. We all need to connect and take the time when we see the need. Its none of my business. I would not know what to say. Information has been taken from Working Minds; Suicide Prevention in the Workplace by the Carson J Spencer Foundation (2009)

13 First, find a private location where the person can feel comfortable and safe. Start with a general question such as I noticed you seemed very upset when you got to work today. Are things going okay for you? Share your concern – I care about you and want to know you are okay. Is there anything I can do? Listen to what the person says and encourage them to open up and talk.

14 Dont Judge Give ultimatums Be sworn to secrecy Lecture Act shocked Give advice Abruptly leave Do Let them know you care Take them seriously Help get to resources Say you will follow up Take action Be direct Be persistent

15 Let them know that the EAP is available. –Have you ever called the EAP? They could be a great place to turn. Let me write down their phone number for you. Better yet, offer to call now – Would it be alright if I called them now and let you speak to a counselor? If the person expresses desperate thoughts or a threat of suicide, call 911.

16 Question –Ask the person if they are having thoughts about suicide. Open up a conversation that may lead you to… Persuade –Encourage and support the person to seek professional help so you can… Refer –Get them to local resources or call the EAP, or Suicide for prevention and an evaluation. QPR is an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons created by Paul Quinnett and first described by the QPR Institute.

17 As with any illness, early detection and treatment is vital in helping to ensure better outcomes and more lives saved. Early recognition of the warning signs and immediate intervention with QPR can get the person the help they need before the need for a 911 call arises.

18 Information has been taken from Working Minds; Suicide Prevention in the Workplace by the Carson J Spencer Foundation (2009) Substantial evidence supports the view that connectedness between persons reduces risk of suicidal behavior. The connections in our life are those that are family and extended family, friendships, work relationships, community involvement, neighbors, schools, universities, etc.

19 It is important that all of us have an understanding of how we can help others in the workplace, whether our work relationship is that of co-worker, manager, supervisor, or a fellow union brother/sister. Our workplace relationships are the level of connectedness we share with other employees. Our work connects us……..

20 The overall value of connectedness: + reduces risk of suicidal behavior + found to be protective against suicidal thoughts and behaviors + important to the prevention of both suicidal behavior and interpersonal violence + reduces stress + improved overall health (increased disease resistance) + discourages maladaptive coping + positive influences lead to positive choices

21 If you know someone who you are concerned about, the EAP is also available for you. –You can call to Discuss your concerns Learn ways to approach the person Find ways to cope with the feelings you may have about the situation

22 Dealing with the aftermath of a suicide in the workplace carries with it important points for all to know. 1)Common Reactions 2)How to Help a Grieving Co-Worker 3)Taking Care of Yourself Adapted from Smith, Rivero, & Cimini. (2010, June 8). Postvention as a Prevention Tool: Developing a Comprehensive Postvention Response for Your Campus.

23 Coping with the loss of a co-worker or work associate by suicide. We spend a tremendous amount of time with our co-workers. They touch our lives every day. We work together, laugh together, complain to one another, experience successes and failures together, have good days together, and bad days together. Many times we consider our co-workers friends, sometimes even family. Particularly for the Postal Service, the term Postal family is often used.

24 Common Reactions Everyone reacts differently to death and employs personal coping mechanisms for grief. Guilt: Often people develop feelings of guilt surrounding the suicide of a co-worker. A persons decision to commit suicide is so deeply personal, it can be beyond the reach of even the most loving and loyal friend. Anger: It is very common for people to feel angry with the person who committed suicide. This anger may be related to personal or religious beliefs that consider suicide unacceptable or the impact that the suicide has on the surviving family, friends and co-workers. Oftentimes the anger is mixed with grief and can feel very confusing and most often the anger decreases as acceptance occurs.

25 Common Reactions Sadness: Intense sadness is a normal part of the grieving process for many people. This sadness can be mixed with guilt and anger and can seem overwhelming. Frustration with not knowing why: A persons suicide often leaves many questions unanswered. It is very frustrating to not have answers to explain why someone would take their own life. Many surviving family and friends report that they were never able to fully understand why the suicide happened. The lack of understanding often complicates the grieving process. Adapted by Richard J. Ottenstein, Ph.D., CEAP, CTS, The Workplace Trauma Center

26 How to Help a Grieving Co-Worker: 1)Allow the person to express their feelings. Grieving people need to work through their feelings and often do by sharing their feelings with others. 2)Be non-judgmental of the other person's feelings. Each person has his or her own feelings about death and suicide. It is generally not helpful to push your own feelings at a grieving person. 3)If the other person is expressing suicidal feelings of their own strongly encourage them to get immediate help, even contacting their family if necessary, to support them. A person who has been struggling with suicide may either react by feeling that suicide is not as good an idea as they thought, or they may react by feeling that suicide is a real possibility for them. CALL THE EAP

27 For yourself, take these tasks to heart. Talk about the death of your friend and colleague in order to understand what happened and remember your friend or coworker. Denying the death is an easy way to isolate yourself, and will frustrate your support system in the process. Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal. Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest help us get through each day and move forward. Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope. Remember and celebrate the lives of a co-worker. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you to honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you. CALL THE EAP © 2013 American Psychological Association


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