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When to be Concerned About a Teammate
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- “Short fuse”: showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
How to Respond to Teammates at Risk
For teammates at ALL LEVELS of risk:
- Be Direct. Talk openly about suicide. If you are concerned that this may be an issue, ask the person, “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture the person.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
For teammates at SERIOUS risk:
- Talk with your HR Department or EAP, or call the Lifeline about your concerns.
- Reach out to the person
- Ask how he or she is doing: if you become concerned about self-harm, ask the person, “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- Listen without judging.
- Mention changes you have noticed in the person’s behavior and say that you are concerned about his or her emotional well-being.
- Suggest that he or she talk with someone in the HR Department or EAP, or another mental health professional. Offer to help arrange an appointment and go with the person.
Common Barriers to Seeking Help
Teammates with thoughts of suicide or mental health issues may face many barriers (real or perceived) to seeking help:
- Not recognizing that they need emotional support or professional help.
- Not knowing how to find help.
- Cultural traditions that value individual independence or frown upon seeking help outside of family.
- The mistaken belief that problems cannot be resolved, even with assistance.
- Lack of access to care, because of a lack of providers or financial issues.
- Stigma around mental illness and suicide.
What managers can do to help teammates overcome barriers to seeking help:
- Identify workplace and national options for help and support, such as the HR Department, EAP, and Lifeline.
- Educate Teammates about the warning signs for suicide.
- Reduce stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination by emphasizing that everyone faces challenges and that no one should have to go through them alone.
- Encourage Teammates to support each other in seeking help when they see their coworkers struggling.
- You can call the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 866-248-4094 and ask for assistance in helping a team member who is struggling.
- You can also call the EAP with a Teammate
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255