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September 10, 2021

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021: Creating Hope Through Action

Friday 10 September marks World Suicide Prevention Day 2021. The international theme this year is set around ‘Creating Hope Through Action,’ with the focus being on exploring the complicated idea of ‘hope’ in suicide prevention.

The impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns across the world has meant that the last 18 months have been important for awareness around suicide prevention as we have seen increasing visibility, events, action and understanding.

Each year, in September, organisations and communities around the world come together to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, with the aim being to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

According to the Samaritans, the latest suicides statistics showed that in 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died by suicide. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.

World Health Organisation statistics show that 700,000 people die by suicide every year. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death amongst 15- to 29-year-olds globally.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention has created a series of resources and information to help employers raise awareness within their organisation.

They include information about ways you can get involved and a series of banners and social media posts, which are available to download and share.

Talking to a suicidal employee can save their life

Overseas employees in need of support

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection says: “Suicides are preventable and it’s important that employers with overseas staff in particular ensure they have a strong understanding of the issues. They are in a position of responsibility and can put in place measures to promote the good mental health of employees.”

Specific challenges for overseas employees
It is important for employers to understand the specific challenges that overseas staff face.

Employees abroad may have feelings of isolation and lack of support. This can be exacerbated by unfamiliar surroundings and new customs. They may feel they have no one to turn to, particularly if their head office and HR department are back in the UK.

If the role does not work out, employees with overseas assignments may be particularly hard on themselves. This often stems from the idea that working abroad should be a great opportunity. They may think they have let people down and have feelings of failure.

Work/life balance
The average number of weekly hours worked varies from 37.2 in Denmark to 49.8 in Columbia. Employees expecting to have a better lifestyle in a new country may be surprised by the extra hours they have to work, and this can take its toll both physically and mentally.

Making help available
Early intervention is crucial. Employees should be made aware of support before they need it.

Local knowledge
Health and wellbeing experts with local knowledge can be vital in ensuring overseas staff are aware of a country’s resources.

Experienced support
It can be helpful for employees to be able to talk to someone who has experienced working abroad themselves and understands the specific challenges.

Keep communicating
Companies should foster an environment where colleagues feel comfortable talking about their problems, especially in areas where the culture may be less open about mental health issues.

Virtual assistance
It is increasingly common for counselling and therapy sessions to be held online. Just being available online for colleagues can make a huge difference to someone feeling isolated.

Specific mental health support
Mental health training for managers, psychiatric support within health policies, and access to talking therapies can all be made available to staff both at home and abroad.

Employee assistance
Global employee assistance programmes (EAPs) offer staff confidential helplines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With counsellors, legal and financial specialists, they can offer email and live chat, structured counselling online, face-to-face sessions or on the phone, and access to wellbeing portals.

Sarah Dennis concludes: “Help is available, and employers need to make sure access is easy and well communicated.”

Useful resources:

SHP’s suicide helplines resources and support hotlines


National Suicide Prevention Alliance

International Association for Suicide Prevention

SHP Webinar Wednesdays 2021

SHP Webinar Wednesdays is back for 2021. A season of interactive health and safety webinars throughout September and October giving you the opportunity to learn about a range of key industry topics.

SHP Webinar Wednesdays

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