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Suicide, A Serious Conversation

10th September 2019

Safety is about people, protecting people’s health, and saving lives.  It’s not always the working at height, or the confined spaces that are the risks.

On September 10th every year, many around the world take an opportunity to discuss and raise awareness around suicide prevention.

Many of us have had someone we know impacted by suicide, and that can include ourselves as well.  Whether it’s thoughts we’ve had, or it’s people we know and love, suicide is an ongoing reality.

Statistically Speaking

Statistically in Canada an average of 10 people a day take their own lives.  It affects people from all walks of life, all ages, and is one of the top 10 causes of death in Canada.  Our young may be most at risk.  Statistically suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children and youth (10-19), and young adults (20-29).

The workplace can be a source of distress, anxiety, and fear for some people, it can also be a positive environment that empowers, and supports others.  While it’s not the role of a workplace to be a counsellor’s office, or to diagnose mental health issues, there is a role for the workplace to provide support where it can.

Supporting Someone in Crisis

Some examples of a mental health crisis could be self-harm, panic attacks, or planning to harm yourself, or others.  So when someone is in crisis, how do you know?  What do you do?

How do we provide support in the workplace, or at home for colleagues, families, or friends?


There are workplace resources offered by many employers, such as an employee assistance program (EAP) which is a voluntary and confidential service to help employees and often family members with personal concerns and/or work related health issues.   Workplaces may also offer flexible hours, working from home, or other solutions that may help manage challenges workers may be facing.

Awareness Training

There are also courses that can help workplace supervisors, HR, or safety committee members be more aware of some of the signs, and warnings.   Among others, some related training courses are:

  • SafeTALK
  • Mental Health First Aid

Just Talk

Outside of some of the above solutions, talking is one of the most essential means to provide support.

Group Talk

Conversations, lunch and learns, toolbox talks, or JOSH meetings can cover a range of topics:

  • Suicide and suicide prevention
  • Importance of awareness of managing mental health
  • Mental health myth busting

Just talking to someone about how you feel, talking to someone who needs to be heard,  raising the topic of suicide in a respectful, safe, and relevant manner can help those suffering mental health issues, or approaching crisis point.  The Canadian Government’s Suicide Prevention page suggests the following in relation to helping someone in crisis:

One on One Talk

Talking honestly, responsibly and safely about suicide can help you determine if someone needs help.

  • Listening and showing concern
  • Showing concern can be an immediate way to help someone
  • Listening won’t increase the risk of suicide and it may save a life
  • Talking with them and reassuring them that they’re not alone
  • Letting them know you care
  • Connecting them with a:
    • Crisis line
    • Counsellor
    • Trusted person (neighbour, friend, family member or Elder)

Support and Resources

If you think you know someone who may need some support, or if you’re interested in learning more, there are a number of Canadian resources available.  The following may be worth printing and posting in the workplace:

  • Kids Help Phone – 1 800 668 6868
  • Crisis support, text anywhere in Canada – 686868

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has some recommendations on how you can help on their website 

There is also a list of support centres across Canada, and by province.



Posted in: Safety Blog