Many factors can cause a person to end their life, whether they have struggled with depression for many years or have had a recent episode of major depression. Some events that can lead to suicidal ideation are: job loss, financial problems, divorce and health problems. If you notice that someone is “down,” not themselves, easily agitated, or withdrawn, these could be signs that they are contemplating suicide.
In the past few years, I have worked with individuals in my private practice and managers of firms who have asked me what to do when they are concerned about someone. I also previously counseled a woman whose fiancé had returned from war who was at a high risk for self-harm.
In all of these situations, it is important to find a time when the person is able to sit down and speak in person. It’s important to start by telling the individual the changes that you have noticed. You can give a few examples of what you have seen and why you are concerned. It is important not to overwhelm the person as that may cause the person to withdraw further. This is especially true if someone has had a traumatic experience, such as a loss of a loved one or has been in combat as part of their military service.
If the person is not ready to get help, you can continue to try and speak with them to check in on how they are doing. If you are still concerned, you can suggest that they see a mental health professional and offer them some resources. Most people have access to employee assistance programs, therapists in their community and mental health centers.
We can all do our part to help people who are suffering from mental illness by showing our concern and letting people know that we are there for them. Ultimately, it’s crucial that we work to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.