Creating a Safe and Supportive Work Environment: Powerful Guidelines for Preventing Suicide in the Workplace


a man worried about his work environment and situation, thinking about suicide

The dynamics that we currently have in the workplace, whether public or private, are increasingly demanding and stressful.

Faster work rhythms, long workdays, low pay, a lack of a good work environment, individualization, mobbing, and actions of harassment and persecution lead to low self-esteem and exclusion.

These events cause alterations in mood, the body responds to unrelieved emotional stress through physical discomfort and begins to somatize, and mental exhaustion is generated.

The constant stress in the work environment is subjected can lead to self-destructive behavior, alcohol abuse, self-medication, drug use, and even suicide, which becomes an outlet for work-related problems.

For example, in a society as demanding as Japan’s, death from overwork is called “karoshi.”

Some studies have shown that healthcare workers such as:

  • Doctors.
  • Nurses.
  • Dentists.
  • Psychologists.
  • Workers who provide care to others.

And they have a higher level of chronic work stress, known as Burnout syndrome or “burned-out worker syndrome.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the syndrome as an occupational risk factor.

Because it significantly affects the quality of life, mental health, and puts the life of the person who suffers from it at risk.

Workers with this condition do not perform well in:

  • their work environment
  • they are ineffective
  • insecure
  • constantly absent
  • have sudden mood swings
  • isolate themselves
  • physically neglect themselves
  • do not maintain personal hygiene
  • have little empathy with their coworkers
  • provide poor customer service

Currently, in companies, institutions, and agencies, there is high competitiveness that generates a lot of uncertainty. There is a lack of stability in maintaining a position, and frustration appears when objectives, goals, and results are not achieved.

Globalization generates greater demands on workers and the economic sector to which they belong, deep changes in production models, new technologies are incorporated, the economy moves at high speeds, better results are expected in goals, products, and deliverables, and new and changing working conditions are implemented.

As a result of the above, forms of socialization are modified.

A boy frustrated by his work environment

It is a more individualized and selfish world, which generates an imbalance in the worker, in his work and social environment.

Stagnation, boredom, apathy, devaluation, isolation, strained relationships, and lack of stimulation, as well as self-medication, the use of anxiety medication, and sleep disorders can lead to afflictions identified with Burnout syndrome.

Among the conditions that can be mentioned are mental exhaustion, lack of energy, impairment of the locomotor system, muscle pain and stiffness, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders, skin problems, impotence, obesity, headaches, among others. In some cases, the level of stress can cause psychological vulnerability, coupled with constant pressure from the environment that can lead to a fatal outcome.

As we can see, chronic work-related stress is a complex and multifactorial problem. It is therefore important that companies or institutions, through safety and hygiene committees, inspectors, and unions, clearly identify the effects on the physical and mental health of their workers for proper suicide prevention.

Therefore, a protocol for the prevention of occupational risks should be generated.

In addition, there must be an adequate communication bridge between the workers and their employers, implementing a participatory work environment, in order to take the necessary actions for a healthy environment and therefore suicide prevention.

Some companies and institutions have implemented spaces for relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and listening to music that reduces anxiety and stress.

In other cases, small gyms have been set up for exercise with simple stretching routines to avoid muscle tension.

Psychological attention is necessary and important for the worker to develop efficient mechanisms to cope with situations of tension or stress.

Fostering an optimal work environment, teamwork, with common objectives, and developing social activities.

Respecting established work schedules, avoiding overwork with long working hours, defining a schedule for food consumption, and granting rest days.

Imparting courses in result orientation, teamwork, training, and updating.

Recognizing the effort of the worker, making them feel valued and recognized, and expressing gratitude.

Promoting professional development that allows for growth and promotion.

Fostering a healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition, developing a sports practice, and getting good rest at night.

Stimulation, motivation, and a good atmosphere have a positive influence.

A motivated and content worker is more productive, attends work with enthusiasm and vigor, performs better in their activities, focuses their effort on the goals and objectives of their position, and of course, this benefits the institution or company as a whole.

Emotional disturbances, illnesses, discomforts, and even suicidal behaviors caused by work-related stress can be prevented and treated if detected in time.

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