Suicide Awareness in the Workplace​

Our facilitated session will focus on myths and facts of suicide, the impact of suicide, how to begin a conversation with someone you may be worried about, and details about Centre for Suicide Prevention’s education and training services available to all organizations across Alberta.

Key Points/Outline of Presentation:

Does the state of the economy affect the rate of suicide?

I’m concerned about my colleague at work…what should I say?

I’m stressed out at work and not sure I can take much more…

Alberta’s economy remains in recession; layoffs continue, leaving the currently employed in a culture ridden with survivor guilt and many others simply out of work. Recent research tells us that there is a direct 2.8% correlation between the unemployment rate and the rate of suicide deaths (Kneebone, 2019). We also know that every year, more Albertans die by suicide than in motor vehicle collisions: 75% of these suicides are men (Statistics Canada, 2015).

The direct and indirect costs of suicide to the Alberta economy in 2015 were estimated to be $800 million (Aneilski, 2015). The human costs for those left behind are equally severe: stress, anxiety, absenteeism, loss of productivity, substance abuse, sick leave, strain on family, friends and colleagues, short-term disability and more.

At the time of this presentation submission, the world is in the middle of a global health pandemic caused by the Covid-19 outbreak that has created unprecedented working conditions and environments. Millions of employees in organizations around the world have been laid off, are seeking government emergency unemployment benefits, or trying to balance work from home responsibilities remotely (with many also caring for elderly relatives or small children at the same time).

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney recently addressed the province about the impact of Covid-19 and the provincial economic outlook. In 2020, he revealed his prediction of a 25% rate of unemployment to befall the province in the months ahead. It is truly difficult to imagine what the face of work will look like for our conference discussions in October, and what our new normal will be going forward into the immediate feature.


Alberta’s suicide rate remains among the highest of Canadian provinces and the impact of Covid-19 on top of existing unemployment in the oil and gas sector and other social and economic challenges has devastating potential.
We also know that social isolation is a risk factor for suicide, and, during times of crisis, anxiety and overwhelm are common feelings. Researchers (and clinicians) are projecting that the ‘second pandemic’ will be psychological, including elevated suicide rates. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If a wave of psychological trauma is coming, the time to strengthen our resilience and our mental health resources is now.

Preventing a suicide is something that anyone can do: it does not take an expert. We can all learn some simple skills to help save a life, in our communities, homes, and our workplaces. (Herron et al., 2016). The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized education and awareness as vital in suicide prevention in workplaces and communities. WHO has said, “Suicide prevention at work is best addressed through a combination of (four components, including) the destigmatization of mental health problems and help-seeking (including awareness raising).”

Centre for Suicide Prevention works with corporate and public sector clients to educate and train employees and teams on simple steps for suicide awareness and prevention. Through providing practical resources and new approaches to training on managing employee mental health, how to cope effectively and how to support others in our workplaces, families and communities, CSP continues to build the internal capacities of organizations and individuals to prevent suicide by learning to support themselves and those around them.

This proactive approach within businesses and communities further helps to avoid placing this burden on our health professionals and systems at a time when they are being stretched to the limit with emergency pandemic responses.

Our facilitated session will focus on myths and facts of suicide, the impact of suicide, how to begin a conversation with someone you may be worried about, and details about CSP’s education and training services available to all organizations across Alberta.