How can HR support suicide prevention? Promote your EAP

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. But when September ends, and the attention fades, suicide will still be a problem.

Because suicidal thoughts and intentions don’t limit themselves to a day or a month. They occur at any time of the year, any time of day or night, often when support seems unavailable. Like most unwanted thoughts, suicidal impulses are around 24/7.

So is your EAP. Staffed with trained professionals who can provide in-the-moment stabilization and ongoing support, EAPs can be a first line of defense.

But too often, the people who need the EAP most don’t even know that immediate, free, confidential help is available whenever they need it.

Studies reveal that hopelessness is a key factor in suicide risk. Consistently promoting the EAP can help direct individuals to the help they need before a sense of hopelessness sets in.

Feeling overwhelmed often leads to hopelessness. In addition to support and counseling, EAP professionals can connect people with practical resources that can ease external burdens that may contribute such as caregiving responsibilities or financial problems.

More than anything, the EAP offers ongoing support and direction – something that many people with suicidal thoughts say is lacking. Just knowing that support is available can sometimes make a critical difference.

So when you start thinking about what you can do to prevent suicide in your workforce, remember you already have a valuable tool at your disposal. Suicide prevention isn’t a month-long endeavor – it’s an ongoing initiative.

Promote your EAP during September – and continue to promote it in engaging ways all year long. Don’t rely on communicating its benefits to employees only when suicide is in the news; make sure all your employees know that assistance is always available.