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Suicide Prevention and Intervention Resources

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Welcome! This webpage is designed to support Washington State government employees in preventing and responding to suicide. Our goal is to provide employees and management with tools, resources, and support to equip you to respond effectively when state employees are impacted by suicide, whether personally or in the workplace. It is the result of a multi-agency collaboration—view our charter or contact the EAP to find out more.

If you are looking for information not specific to state government employees, please visit the Department of Health Suicide Resource page.

Important Note: This site is for informational/educational purposes and is not intended to replace crisis intervention services. If you or someone else is at immediate risk of suicide, please don't wait -- contact 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you care about is at immediate risk of suicide, don't wait: call 911 or go to a hospital ER. Emergency responders are trained to help you get to the other side of this crisis and help you find ongoing support.
You are not alone—each year in the United States, almost 10 million adults seriously think about suicide. Help is available in a number of ways:

By Phone:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you want to speak with a trained suicide prevention hotline counselor. The Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support to those in crisis and can also provide support and information about local resources for those thinking about suicide, their loved ones, colleagues, and professionals who want to support someone in crisis.
  • Contact your local County Crisis Line. They can help identify and connect you with resources in your area, and may have a crisis worker available to come meet with you if needed.

Through Text or Chat:

  • You can start a conversation with the Crisis Text Line by texting HEAL to 741-741. This free 24/7 text service will connect you to a Crisis Counselor volunteer trained to listen and support you. You can text them about anything that is a crisis to you.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and CONTACT USA also offer an online chat network so you can start a chat conversation from a computer.

Help for specific groups:

In-person support:

  • The Washington State Employee Assistance Program can provide you with free and confidential face-to-face or phone counseling. If you are in a crisis, please use one of the services above, but if you can wait to set up an appointment with a counselor, please call us at 1-877-313-4455 to get a referral to a counselor in your area.

Other Resources:

  • You are not alone. Watch these stories from survivors.
  • If you may be at risk of suicide in the future, the My3 App from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help you take care of yourself and stay safe. You can use the app to list your crisis contacts, make a safety plan and use emergency resources.
  • Keeping your home safe is an important way to prevent suicide. If you or someone in your home is at risk of suicide or may be in the future, reduce access to lethal means (objects or substances people could use to harm themselves). For information about how to keep your home safe, see:
  • Safer Homes Coalition – a WA effort promoting safe storage of medications and firearms.
  • Suicide Proof – an interactive site where you can learn about home safety.
  • Prevention Lane – recommendations for making the home safer for a family member at risk.
  • Man Therapy is a web resource targeted to prevent suicide in working-aged med, who are statistically the most likely to die by suicide and the least likely to receive support.

Help a Loved One

You don't have to be a professional counselor to learn a few basic steps to check in on someone who seems like they might be hurting. You can potentially save a life by understanding the warning signs of someone thinking about suicide and learning the simple ways you can talk with them about it.

*If you think someone might be at immediate risk of killing themselves, call 9-1-1*

Learn the steps to talk to someone and get them help

Developed by the Forefront Suicide Prevention program at the University of Washington, there are five simple steps you can follow to support a friend, loved one, or co-worker who might be suicidal:
(Download and print a one page handout on the LEARN model and keep it as a reference)

Look for signs

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • 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 isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

Empathize and listen

  • Take them seriously and listen without judgment.
  • Don't tell the person to do it. For example, don't say "If you want to be selfish, go ahead and do it." Instead, say "I can imagine how tough it is to feel like this. I want to help."
  • Don't promise to keep it a secret. For example, don't say "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." Rather, say: "I'm glad that you told me about this. I care about you too much not to get your help."
  • Don't try to "fix" someone by giving them advice or telling them "you'll be okay" or "don't worry, it will get better." This can sound dismissive of their feelings. Rather, listen carefully, summarize what they shared, and say "that sounds really hard, and I am here for you."

Ask about suicide

  • It's a myth that asking someone about suicide might lead them to it—in fact, you asking might be the very thing that prevents it.
  • The most important thing you can do is check in on someone. Ask: "Are you doing okay?"
  • If you see or hear any warning signs, ask directly: "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" or "Are you thinking of ending your life?"
  • Don't ask in a way that shows you are looking for a "no" answer. For example, don't say "You're not going to do anything stupid, are you?"

Remove the danger

  • Respectfully ask if you can help them through the crisis by removing the danger.
  • Follow this handout on removing the deadly means.
    • Firearms are the most lethal suicide method, so you can help a loved one by removing or locking up guns until things get better.
    • Medications, drugs, and alcohol can also be kept safe.

Next steps

  • If someone is thinking about suicide, be prepared with information on how to connect them to help.
  • They may know who they want to talk to (for example, their doctor or therapist), or
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-273-8255.
    • Press 1 for the Veterans Helpline
    • For teens, they can ask to talk to a peer at 1-866-TEENLINK
    • If someone doesn't want to talk, they can text the word HEAL to 741-741 and start a chat

Additional Resources:

  • At suicideispreventable.org, learn more about what to say or not say to someone who is suicidal.
  • As a concerned love one, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support and resources for loved ones, colleagues, and professionals who want to support someone in crisis.
  • HelpGuide.org is a library of information, resources, and techniques to learn about a number of mental health issues people cope with every day.
  • Online 2-1-1 database as a way to find local resources throughout WA

Help a Coworker

People often try to keep their private lives separate from work, but coworkers can play an important role in supporting a person who is struggling. Many people spend the majority of their waking hours at the workplace. Coworkers may be the first ones to notice changes in behavior that could suggest risk for suicide.

While you have no formal responsibility to intervene, you may be worried about someone and wondering what you could do to help. This downloadable guide, The Role of Co-Workers in Preventing Suicide in the Workplace, is a good resource.

We know this is uncomfortable. When you reach out to help someone who is struggling, they might initially be reactive and emotional, not grateful. In fact, the person might be angry with you. But it's better to err on the side of keeping someone alive than to ignore your concern for fear of upsetting someone.

*If you think someone might be at immediate risk of killing themselves, call 9-1-1*

We encourage you to take action if you think someone might be considering suicide. Red flags might include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • 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 isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

Steps you can take to help a coworker at risk of suicide

  1. If it seems like someone might be at immediate risk of trying to kill themselves today at work or when they leave work, call 911 (or designate another coworker or supervisor to call 911). If it does not put you at risk, stay with the person, preferably in a quiet place so they can have some privacy, until help arrives.
  2. If you see any of the listed red flags, or just have a gut feeling that someone is not doing okay, reach out to them. Ask how they are doing. Tell them why you feel concerned. Ask directly: "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" Listen in a supportive and non-judgmental manner, no matter their answer.
    1. If they share about any feelings or thoughts of suicide, offer to get them connected to help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can call the hotline together and stay with them while they talk to a counselor.
    2. If after checking in, they do not report any feelings of suicide, you can encourage them to get free, confidential help for whatever is bothering them by calling the Employee Assistance Program 1-877-313-4455.
  3. If you find out a coworker is feeling suicidal, do not promise to keep it a secret. Instead, state "I care about you too much not to get you help. I'm going to support you through this."
  4. It is appropriate to elevate your concerns. Risk of suicide is not something to keep secret. You can contact your HR Department or a supervisor or manager, and they can help you decide what to do. Provide any background information that may be helpful. You can also call the Employee Assistance Program at 1-877-313-4455 to get confidential advice on what to do.
  5. Keep in touch with the person, and continue to provide non-judgemental support. But if you feel that your coworker is leaning on you too much and needs more support than you can provide, make sure you follow step 4 by enlisting help from management or the EAP.

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Don't ignore your gut if something seems wrong with a coworker.
  • Don't gossip by talking about them behind their back with other coworkers (notifying a supervisor or HR is not gossip ). Ask the person directly how they are doing.
  • If someone is suicidal, don't wait and let them go home without taking action. They need to have a safety plan in place—something a professional counselor or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help create with them. Again, this is something you can enlist a manager or HR to help with.

Manager and HR Resources

Supervisors, managers, and human resources play an important role in workplace health and safety. You might be the first person who notices a concerning change in an employee's behavior. Other employees may confide in you that they are worried about a coworker. Or, an employee could directly tell you that they are feeling suicidal. While your role is not to replace a mental health professional or crisis service, you can be prepared to respond in a caring and helpful way to an employee who is having a mental health crisis or who expresses thoughts of suicide. You can always call the EAP for consultation, 24/7.

Prevention: Creating a healthy work culture

Intervention: What to do if an employee is suicidal

If someone is at imminent risk of killing themselves at work or when they leave work, call 911 (or designate another person to call 911). If it does not put you at risk, stay with the person, perferably in a quiet place so they can have some privacy, until help arrives. Contact the EAP and HR to discuss next steps.

Each situation is unique, and we recommend that you always seek professional consultation by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 at or the Washington State Employee Assistance Program at 1-877-313-4455.

The same advice on the "How to Help a Coworker" page can be applied, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a helpful page that walks you through steps to help someone, but here are additional considerations if you are a supervisor, manager, or HR professional:

  • Pay attention especially when the warning signs that someone might be suicidal are combined with problems at work such as performance or disciplinary concerns, or access to deadly means through work (such as a firearm).
  • Let the employee know that you care about them and want to get them help. Do not promise to keep risk of suicide a secret. Contact your HR department and share your concerns. You can also contact the EAP for consultation on how to proceed.
  • If you have concerns about the safety of an employee who is not present at work, attempt to contact them to check on their wellbeing. Tell them why you are concerned, and ask directly about suicide: "Are you thinking of killing yourself?" or "Are you thinking about ending your life?"
    • If they share information that their life is at imminent risk, treat this as a medical emergency—call 911 and report information about the employees address and location.
    • If you can't reach the employee and you think they might be considering suicide, contact your HR department to discuss calling the employee's emergency contact.
    • If you cannot reach a close family member to check on the employee and verify their safety, you can contact local law enforcement, request a wellfare check on the employee, and explain the reason for your concerns.
  • If an employee comes to you with concerns for a coworker, take them seriously. Listen to the concerns and any details they share. Thank the employee for being concerned, and let them know that you will follow up but that you may not be able to report back to them information due to confidentiality. Encourage the reporting employee to stay connected and supportive of their coworker. Ask them to avoid gossip and to report any other concerns to you in the future. Recognize that the reporting employee may be distressed by the information and encourage them to seek out their own support by contacting the EAP, or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • Give the same considerations to someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide as you would a medical condition: respect, confidentiality (as long as it doesn't compromise safety), empathy, and support.
  • The employee may have a behavioral health disability. Discuss options for Reasonable Accommodation with your HR department. These might include: flexible work schedules, emotional support animals, or shifts in assignments or workload.

Postvention: What to do in the aftermath of a suicide

Employees can be deeply impacted by suicide in many ways: by the suicide or attempted suicide of a coworker or a client, by a suicide or attempted suicide at or near the worksite, or by the suicide of a friend, family member, or acquaintance. There is an immediate crisis to tend to, but sometimes the impact can be long-lasting. People are at higher risk of suicide if they know someone who has died by suicide (sometimes call "suicide contagion"), so caring for those impacted by suicide is also an important prevention measure.

  • If you are a manager who wants to support your employees after a suicide, read A Manager's Guide to Postvention in the Workplace.
  • Contact the Washington State Employee Assistance Program at 1-877-313-4455 to talk with a counselor, who can provide immediate support through Critical Incident Stress Management. During the phone call, the counselor will help you determine the best path to supporting your work group and agency, including advice on communicating news to the workgroup, restoring safety, communicating with the family of the deceased, memorializing the deceased, and supporting traumatized coworkers.
  • If the work group wants external professional support, the EAP can provide an on-site group debriefing or other types of support. This typically happens 1-3 days after employees learn about the suicide.
  • Contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Peer Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss program.
  • Find resources for survivors of suicide from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
  • Follow guidance for messaging after a suicide in a way that is safe and helpful.
  • Pay attention to your own self-care—this is an incredibly difficult situation to manage, and you likely are also feeling a range of emotions, from shock to overwhelm to grief. Support is available for you as well through the EAP.

If You Have Lost Someone to Suicide

The grief of losing a loved one to suicide can feel unbearable. You are not alone, and help is available.

Contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Peer Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss program.

Crisis Connections offers free care packages for families in WA and also has a peer phone-based resource called CC Cares Companion Mentor.

Find resources for survivors of suicide from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

UW's Forefront has a page with resources for those bereaved by suicide.

There are local support groups for Survivors of Suicide across Washington State.

The Washington State Employee Assistance Program can provide you with free and confidential face-to-face or phone counseling if you have lost someone to suicide. To set up an appointment with a counselor, please call us at 1-877-313-4455.

Understanding Suicide

Thank you for coming to this page to learn more facts and statistics about suicide. To address a problem, we must first understand it. Here are a few websites that provide more information about suicide and provide information on what is being done locally to prevent suicide:

Washington State Suicide Prevention Plan from the WA State Department of Health

Washington Suicide data from May 2018 (power point)

WA Suicide & Safe Storage of Firearms fact sheet from March 2018

Suicide Information and Statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Understanding suicide by occupation from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Infographic on the Rising Rates of Suicide from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Risk Factors for Suicide

Individual Relationship Community Societal
  • Previous attempt(s)
  • History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Loss (relational, social, work or financial)
  • Illness and disability, including loss of physical or mental funtioning
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide
  • is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma, or belief that older people have little value to the community)
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

 

Protective Factors for the General Population

Individual Relationship Community Societal
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent handling of disputes
  • Strong connections to family and community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help-seeking
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation