I have often worked with suicide. Men and women who have found life intolerable. They have come from a wide demographic, triggered to contemplate ending their lives by varied sets of circumstances.
Now my main focus is on coaching within organisations. Individuals who can afford to pay for coaching.. A percentage of my work is still pro bono supporting charitable organisations.
Poverty (a main trigger) may not be something my current client’s experience. They do however experience fear of redundancy or redundancy itself. Therefore the threat of poverty still exists.
They also experience bereavement and relationship breakdown. These are stated as the primary cause of suicidal ideation and of suicide itself.
No one is immune!
BBC Horizons documentary with Dr Xand van Tulleken brilliantly covered the topic with sensitivity and focus. It highlights the fact that suicide is the highest cause of death in men.
The stories shared were totally heart-breaking. The knowledge for those that are left behind, shattering.
What can we, what can businesses do to help?
The corporate world is improving, providing support to those struggling with mental well-being. But there is still shame and isolation attached to the issue of suicidal thoughts.
Those who bravely confront their fear and confide in someone, can access the correct support through counselling or coaching. But what about those who do not? What about those at, maybe the top of their game? Those who are so ashamed and so isolated that no one notices or says anything?
The first step to preventing suicide:
We must take down our own barriers and masks and cast aside our own stiff upper lips. The answer may start with us just being more honest. I believe that if we created a culture of openness. A culture where we acknowledged our struggles, then people would not end up being so alone, so isolated. We all need to belong, and the power of a listening ear is incredible.
Those snatched conversations by the water cooler. Those moments where you look in someone’s eyes rather than at the screen. You could possibly save a life.
Dr Xand (BBC Horizon) speaks about his own thoughts around suicide with candour and bravery. He is not weak, but is in fact, the opposite. Thus, as we, as you, are honest too, you will inspire other to do likewise.
We are only human after all.
The pressure to be the best. To rise through the ranks. To provide and, crucially, maintain a great lifestyle for the family can result in burnout.
What is the price of the bottom line? Businesses must recognise, that investing in the health of their staff is the best way to ensure a healthy profit.
But its not just about providing coaching. I believe its about being human, keeping an eye out for our fellow man, or woman. Caring enough to ask. Not penalising people for stopping to check on the welfare of a colleague.
So back to the corporate response.
Provide space for your people to speak. Acknowledge that vulnerability permitted. It may ensure that less men and women slip through the net!
Coaching is great but training staff to listen to each other may mean the difference between life and death!