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Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

The workplace is arguably the most cross-cutting system to reach people at risk for suicide, and yet few workplaces, unions, and professional associations are tackling this life-threatening issue head-on. A committee of the National Workplace Suicide Prevention and Postvention initiative has developed a task force to draft a white paper that acknowledges the challenges employers face and offers actionable recommendations. It is titled, “Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in the Workplace - Policy and Response Recommendations to Help Employers Positively Impact Workers and the Work Environment.” It is part of a collaborative effort by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and United Suicide Survivors International.  It can be reviewed in detail at

According to the CDC, the majority of people who die by suicide are of working age (18–64), and many are men in their middle years who have never accessed any mental health services. While workplaces have undertaken other public health issues like heart disease, obesity, and cancer, addressing potentially lethal emotional health issues like overdose, suicide, and the consequences of addiction tends to evoke fear in workplace leaders—most notably, HR professionals and employment lawyers.

The report’s goal is to help employers recognize and navigate the complex issues of how best to support employees living with mental health conditions and suicidal intensity, and to understand the policy and legal precedent surrounding best practices for prevention, intervention, crisis response, and postvention (after a suicide death). Sample procedure tips, case studies, and manager approaches are included to help employers make the best decisions to support employees experiencing mental health emergencies.

The white paper is part of the National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention whose mission is to change the culture of workplaces to reduce job strain and negative, fear-based, prejudicial, and discriminatory thoughts, behaviors, and systems regarding suicide and mental health while—at the same time—promoting psychologically healthy norms and environments. The Guidelines set forth a bold vision where workplaces and professional associations join in the global effort to aspire to zero suicides by sustaining a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy as part of their health and safety priorities. This latest resource is one of many on the website at

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal despair, call or text 988, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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