Conducted Needs and Strengths Analysis
“Seek first to understand…”
Like most change processes, the likelihood of developing a successful comprehensive and sustained workplace suicide prevention program is predicated on how well we listen to those most impacted on the front end. Thus, we recommend that before any changes are made, organizations conduct a “Resilience Strengths and Needs Analysis” designed to help the work organization or professional association understand the most prominent suicide concerns, gaps in policy, resources and process, and system strengths.
The “listening phase” accomplishes many goals including:
• To gain buy-in by listening to the needs of various different stakeholders.
• To better understand the resources that already exist to support workplace resilience, mental health and suicide prevention.
• To identify sources of strength, and build on them, to promote vibrancy and areas of vulnerability that increase job strain and despair
• To identify champions who can share lived experience stories of suicide grief as well as stories of living through a mental health crisis of their own, a coworker or family member.
• To gather baseline data against which organizations can benchmark future change.
• To develop a comprehensive strategy and identify best practices (upstream, midstream, downstream).
• To identify tactics (e.g., communication, training delivery, etc) that will increase the likelihood that the implementation phase will be successful.
1. Review CDC Report: “Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation — National Violent Death Reporting System”: : https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6903a1.htm
2. Complete Workplace Organizational Self-Assessment: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WorkplaceMentalFitnessQuiz
Evaluation is Essential
Building an evaluation plan BEFORE finalizing a plan for the a comprehensive workplace suicide prevention program is essential. The main question to answer is — how will we know if our program has done what we have hoped it would do if we don’t have specific targets and goals?
Guiding Principles, Values and Assumptions
Strategic Integration: Workplaces are a uniquely positioned and necessary part of a larger public health approach to suicide prevention, and as such they can systemically embed suicide prevention within health and safety priorities.
Comprehensive and Sustained Investment: “Upstream, midstream and downstream” approaches are all important and require adequate investment of time and financial resources.
Harm Reduction: Workplaces owe employees a safe and healthy work environment and can strive to decrease the harmful exposures and psychosocial hazards that increase the risk of suicide.
Culture Cultivation: Workplaces can offer protection from suicide by cultivating connectedness and healthy and caring community that looks out for one another. Leaders drive this culture by recognizing and rewarding these values.
Dignity Protection: Workplaces can prevent despair and promote healing by fighting against bullying, harassment, discrimination and prejudice and can uphold dignity with collaborative and respectful reintegration.
Wellbeing Promotion: In suicide prevention it’s not good enough to focus on pulling people back from the brink, workplaces also contribute to enhanced hope, purpose and identity that gives people reasons for living and provide a pivotal role in recovery.
Empowered Connection: Workplaces can provide or connect to accessible and effective treatment and peer support services and can prepare employees to help compassionately link people to care.
Action Orientation: Awareness is necessary but not sufficient for change. Workplaces must engage in action through policy, training, and other tactics listed throughout the report.