Help Robin Williams’ Legacy Save a Life

What a shock to hear about the death of Robin Williams, most likely by suicide.  How can someone who has made us laugh so much fall victim to depression?  Unfortunately, depression and addiction can strike anyone at any point in one’s life.  Depression is an epidemic in our country leading four times as many men to commit suicide than women.  In older adults, 6.5 million Americans suffer from depression.

Are public figures unusually susceptible to depression, substance abuse and suicide or do we just hear about it more?

There are many factors that play a part in suicide prevention, and one central one is a strong support system.  A strong Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be the best suicide prevention tool for the workplace.  Managers and supervisors are in a great position to notice that an employee is suffering from depression and/or substance abuse  and to do something about it.

What can managers do to help save a life?

  1. Make sure that you feel confident in your EAP and the response that employees receive when they call.
  2. Observe changes in employees with an eye toward depression.  Does the employee sound more down than usual?  Has anything been said to you or others about not wanting to ‘go on’ ?
  3. Call the EAP yourself to talk over the situation.  If you are confident in your EAP, it is the best management tool you have.
  4. Talk to the employee about your concerns and recommend the EAP to the employee.  Remind employees working remotely about the EAP, as well.
  5. Post the URL for KGA’s screening tools at: http://mentalhealthscreening.org/Screening/KGA

Helping someone turn his or her life around may be the most satisfying aspect of a manager’s job.

Is anyone of concern today?

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