Practice 3: Communication: Increase Understanding of Suicide and Reduce Fear of Suicidal People

“Bake in” messaging around suicide prevention, mental health promotion and resilience wherever health and safety messaging is happening. Share workers’ stories of recovery, resilience, making meaning and support to create a more powerful tale and humanize the issues.

Why is this important and what does this practice entail?

Effective communication is an essential part of a comprehensive approach to workplace suicide prevention. When it comes to raising awareness, too often we have what we call a “state trooper effect” — we pay attention when the urgent matter is right in front of us, but as soon as it goes into our “rear view mirror,” we go back to what we were doing before. For this reason, we challenge you to think creatively and “bake it in” rather than “bolt it on.” “Baked in” means change is here to stay because it becomes assimilated into the organization’s processes and culture. In other words, a comprehensive and sustained upstream strategy is not a “one-and-done” training or a standalone awareness day. Rather, activities, communications, training components, and other elements are woven into the places where other health and safety activity is already happening. This integration will not only help preserve the longevity of these efforts, but it will also help employees connect the dots among a variety of health and safety priorities. One indicator of success is when effective polices supporting workers wellbeing are “baked in” and programs/resources have the necessary ingredients with regard to time to be effective.

Effective communication is like a slow drip over time. Outreach efforts can raise awareness, share stories, promote resources and inspire action. Messages become “sticky” when they are: 1) simple, 2) repeated over time, 3) recognized and rewarded and 4) help guide decisions.

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