Mental health support has been on the rise since the pandemic, with employees across industries demanding increased resources from their employers. This has led to an increase in wellness benefits, such as free counseling, subscriptions to Headspace, Calm and other meditation apps, more paid time off (PTO) for employees to relax, etc. .
Additionally, HR managers encourage managers to maintain constant communication with their employees, even just to check in. Frequent conversations, in person or virtually, are key to detecting signs that employees may have suicidal tendencies.
These signs include an increase in absenteeism and a pattern of mistakes, errors or near misses, says Spencer-Thomas. “Your brain goes into the darkest downward spiral and it’s very hard to get rid of that,” she says. “When called upon to make tough decisions and solve problems, your brain gets distracted.”
Another sign of suicidal tendencies is irritation, especially people who can usually handle a lot of stress but now fly away at the slightest provocation. In male-dominated industries in particular, depression often expresses itself in aggression, which usually leads to human resource issues. “It’s a sign that people aren’t feeling good inside — hurting people hurting people,” says Spencer-Thomas. “While it’s not characteristic of an employee to be so restless, this is another time for managers or HR to check in.”
According to Spencer-Thomas, sleep (or lack thereof) is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to suicidal desperation. Some depressed people stop sleeping, and others may want to sleep all the time but never feel rested. “We’re not ashamed to talk about sleep like we do other mental health symptoms, so if someone isn’t sleeping well, that’s an open door to talking about their mental well-being,” says Spencer-Thomas.