In the wake of recent events and the tragic loss of another beautiful and precious life, the subject of suicide is again being talked about more openly and more actively. The press and social media sites, the same mediums that are cited as one of the main contributors to the current mental health crisis and for supercharging feelings of inadequacy, are awash with messages of kindness and compassion, encouraging those in need to talk more and imploring for everyone to think before they act. The call is for us all to be more considerate of the impact of our actions and more mindful of the message we are sending, to stop and think about the person behind the social media profile and to generally start taking more responsibility for the role we all have to play in creating a society based on caring and not condemning.
In my work I spend most days trying to spread this message and teach people how they can start to embed this same level of compassion in their workplaces. Indeed, our lives are often busy and overwhelming but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to slow down and consider the level of human connection we have with our colleagues. We need to do more to stop and be accountable for each other, to engage on a human level and step away from our digital devices to spend more time interacting in person. Yes, we are becoming more vocal and more aware about the subject of mental health and more specifically, people are being encouraged to talk if they are in need. But unfortunately it is often underestimated how difficult this is, particularly when your mind is flooding your consciousness with contradictory messages. The power of the messages in our mind are infinitely more powerful than any well intended campaign or initiative and therefore we need other people to instigate the conversation and to persist if necessary.
Support isn’t about contrived, cliché messages…it isn’t about being perfect and delivering a text book response to someone who is struggling…it is about genuinely caring about the other person and wanted to help give them hope. Certainly, there will always be the people we naturally bond with and it will certainly be easier to show empathy and concern when these people are struggling. But kindness shouldn’t be selective, it should be inclusive.
The short video below was part of a training we have put together for a client on the subject of Suicide Awareness, to help delegates understand the nature of suicidal thoughts and some simple ways they can help shed some light in the darkness.
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