How communicators can address suicide prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Month, which affords an opportunity to approach this difficult topic. Here’s how to do so with compassion, care and authenticity.

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Of all the topics communicators cover, issues related to mental health might be the trickiest.

Discussing suicide is particularly fraught. However, if there’s a bright side to the toll COVID-19 is taking on our mental health, it’s an increasingly willingness—and urgency—for companies to freely broach topics previously seen as taboo.

Caren Howard, advocacy manager for Mental Health America (MHA), shares that corporate communication about mental health and suicide prevention is hugely important and should be crafted with the utmost care. But the crux is that there must be meat behind the messaging.

“Creating a healthy workplace is more important than your messaging,” she says, adding that MHA data has tracked an uptick in suicidal thoughts for every racial group since the onset of COVID-19. That tracks with the CDC’s recent findings that more than 40% of U.S. adults are experiencing at least one adverse mental health condition or struggling with substance abuse right now.

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