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Getting at the Roots of Suicide Prevention

There are few efforts more important today than decreasing suicide rates. In the end, the greatest solution is to help the kind of healing and growth that leads people to joyful, connected lives.

5 Lifestyle Adjustments, Proven to Decrease Suicidality

by Impact Suite a Buckner Wellness Partner


Decrease Isolation and Disconnection

A connected life is a happy life—with social isolation, loneliness and alienation among the largest risk factors associated with suicide.1 If an individual lacks support from their existing personal relationships, seeking out companionship and support in their community — including at work — can help build friendships and “found families.” Indeed, psychologist Dr. Dave Schramm argues that productive work structures can mimic what happens in a healthy family.

What can you do?

Arrange fun, collaborative activities, and foster an environment of open communication where positive relationships can flourish.


Increase Physical Health

Eat, sleep, move. Chronic physical health challenges can wear anyone down. One study of hundreds of suicides found “nearly all physical health conditions increased suicide risk,” for instance, with sleep disorders doubling the risk of suicide, and “multiple physical health

conditions increas[ing] suicide risk substantially.” These findings “support suicide prevention based on the overall burden of physical health.”2 Naturally then, the more

people feel physically well, the less likely they are to be plagued by thoughts of escaping their lives. Yet finding motivation to exercise or eat well can feel especially difficult for those deeply depressed or burdened—which is part of why early preventative efforts are so critical.

What can you do?

Orchestrate workplace-wide challenges or contests with small, measurable goals and built-in incentives; also, schedule stretch breaks, or hold meetings on the go while taking a walk around the building.


Expand Meaning and Purpose

Whether it be a service organization, social cause, or religious group, people are less likely to face suicidality if they are actively engaged in opportunities to serve and

grow. Meaning in life has been repeatedly found to be a “protective factor against suicidal ideation,”3 - with interventions that increase meaning, consistently found to simultaneously decrease suicidality and depression.4 The more people can feel connected to a larger mission, or higher purpose in life, the research is clear: they will be far less likely to consider ending that life.

What can you do?

Create service opportunities and emphasize strong, positive company mission statements to help employees feel connected to a meaningful purpose and cause.


Take Steps to Process Emotional Pain

Helping an employee cope with the scars of severe trauma or mental illness may seem outside the scope of what can be achieved in a corporate setting, although companies are

taking significant strides in providing therapeutic support. There is one area where any workplace can become either an aid or a primary culprit: stress levels.

What can you do?

Don’t forget to keep tabs on workplace stress. Experiment with different ways to check in with employees—ensuring they can maintain a reasonable work-life balance and get the support they need for their professional requirements.


Cultivate Positivity

More than simply reducing emotional pain, research is clear that active efforts to foster positive emotions and experiences make a huge difference. The science of kindness and gratitude confirms that even small efforts to foster positivity can yield oversized benefits in our emotional well-being - even to the point of protecting people against suicidality.

What can you do?

Obviously, hanging inspirational posters or telling people to just “be more positive” isn’t what we’re talking about here. Foster an environment where expressing gratitude is common, and positive feedback is given often. Some companies may even employ incentivized programs that encourage coworkers to “reward” each other for work well done.

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