Reducing Suicide Risk

The recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and other celebrities have put a spotlight on suicides and mental health. Suicides of high-profile individuals receive significant media coverage, but each day hundreds of others suffer with little or no public attention. While there have been reports of positive outcomes from media coverage of celebrity suicides such as an increase in calls to the Suicide Prevention Hotline, mental health experts have stated that several high-profile celebrity suicides could cause an increased risk of suicide contagion.

Suicide contagion is a process in which the suicide of one person or multiple people can contribute to a rise in suicidal behaviors among others, especially those who already have suicidal thoughts or a known risk factor for suicide (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). According to the Educational Development Center (EDC), there are more than 44,000 deaths by suicide in the United States annually, with more than a million people making suicide attempts. These individuals are found throughout society: in schools, churches, mental health facilities, homes, workplaces, and counseling settings. Leaders in charge of these organizations must be proactive in understanding general best practices for protecting the individuals they serve and then identifying tools and resources that are suited for each type of organization and setting.

Best Practices
The first step is to understand if the individuals who work for or are served by your organization are at risk for suicide. Suicides touch all areas of society. However, some organizations serving individuals at higher risk include:

  • Healthcare providers, especially those involved in behavioral health
  • Substance abuse treatment programs
  • Social work and foster care organizations
  • Counseling settings
  • Schools
  • Residential and hospitality settings

The next step is to evaluate procedures in place to prevent suicide. Areas organizations need to evaluate include:

  • Screening for suicide risk: Is there a prescribed process to identify individuals who are at risk for suicide?
  • Staff training: Are employees and volunteers aware of suicide risk factors and how to respond when they encounter these? Gatekeepers who would most likely be involved and able to assess individuals potentially at risk should receive more specialized training.
  • Education: Is there education for individuals potentially at risk, including what warning signs they should be aware of, that their problems are treatable, basics on coping mechanisms, and where to get help? Are others such as family members, fellow classmates, and other program participants aware of warning signs and how to seek help?
  • Response program: Are there procedures in place to approach and assist individuals who show warning signs?
  • Referral resources: When the risk factors are beyond the capacity for the organization to address, where are the at-risk individuals referred and is the process seamless?
  • Resources: Is staff time and the organization's monetary resources set aside to address the areas noted above?

Tools and Resources
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SPRC provides technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of professionals serving people at risk for suicide. Much of this is available through their website at SPRC also provides support for Zero Suicide, an initiative and methodology for suicide prevention primarily within the health and behavioral health systems. Both SPRC and Zero Suicide are connected within the umbrella of the EDC.

PHLY has partnered with the EDC and Zero Suicide to develop a suicide prevention resource guide. This guide is designed to help organizations identify suicide prevention resources that would work well for their type of operations. Each section of the guide begins with resources for systemic efforts to prevent suicide and moves on to more specific tools for recognizing and responding to suicidal behaviors in individuals. Many of these resources are available at no cost. Click the button below to access the guide.

Learn More

IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company in this E-Brochure is for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

Share to Facebook Share to Linkedin Share to Twitter More...
Please Wait...

Please Wait