6 Signs an employee is feeling suicidal

APeopleBusiness is often asked by business leaders

how do you spot the signs of an employee in trouble and potentially suicidal?

We have analysed all of our data collected over 2 years and have come up with possible triggers of anxiety & depression leading to thoughts of suicide. If you spot anyone that has shown material behavioural changes from 3 or more of the following areas our data suggests you should then investigate further.

What do we understand by the signs of poor mental health?

Here are some examples of symptoms that can affect our mental wellbeing. If not addressed, it could lead to some serious conditions. With effective early detection, signposting and intervention by healthcare professionals can improve our overall wellbeing and help prevent severe outcomes such as suicide.

1. Lower Mood

Why do we sometimes ‘feel low’? What do we understand about it? It is often common to experience low moods after major life changes or distressing experiences, but then, every so often, low mood can occur without any reason. Examples of low mood include:

  • tiredness
  • reduced confidence levels
  • frustration
  • worries
  • anger

Yet low mood can pass after a few days or weeks and there are some simple things or changes you can do/make to help ease and improve your mood.

However, if low mood continues into several weeks (e.g. loss of interest/enjoyment in doing normal day to day things/tasks), it could indicate that you are experiencing symptoms of depression.

2. More irritable

What causes irritability?

The common psychological causes include stress and anxiety. From a mental health aspect, irritability is also associated with (but not limited to) depression and clinically known conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Physical causes are also common that can lead to becoming more irritable, such as, lack of sleep, long term conditions (e.g. diabetes, respiratory illnesses) or the flu or infections.
Hormonal imbalance and changes can also contribute to irritability.

Other contributors include drug use, alcoholism and withdrawal symptoms too.

But as we explore the causes, the effects of any one of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time could interfere with your daily life if not identified and managed with the support and advice from your healthcare professional.

3. Emotional highs/lows

Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, seems to capture the definition of emotional highs/lows. This is the clinical condition for this type of mood change as cited on www.nhs.uk/conditions/cyclothymia

The symptoms include:

  • Episodes of feeling low followed by periods of extreme happiness and excitement (called hypomania) when you don’t need much sleep and feel that you have a lot of energy
  • Lethargy and loss of interest could occur but doesn’t stop going about a normal life
  • Mood swings are quite frequent

There are some similarities to bipolar disorder. However, cyclothymia symptoms aren’t severe enough to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although treatment for cyclothymia through psychotherapy and medication aims to stop it progressing into bipolar disorder.

4. Withdrawn

This behaviour is associated with avoiding or not seeking out social contact. People who withdraw, may actively avoid spending time with other people or even not put effort into looking for social connections.

Many people experiencing withdrawn symptoms often don’t mind being with people, but don’t feel the need to seek out other. Some would like to be social but don’t have the confidence. Whilst others dislike being with others.

Examples of becoming withdrawn include:

  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Preferring to work or play by themselves
  • Talking less in social settings (e.g. Video conferencing tools can make it difficult more difficult or even opportunistic for withdrawn behaviour)
  • Staying home more rather than going out to events where other people will be there (pandemic has made this worse causing people to become withdrawn)
  • Preferring not to meet new people or try new things
  • Staying out of unfamiliar situations (preferring low risk environments)
  • Preferring jobs that work with things rather than people
  • Not a conversation starter or taking time to take part in

One would wonder if this could this be on the rise as many have, over a prolonged period, during the effects of the pandemic. As the majority of the population has had to isolate, losing that social and physical contact, could it lead to people becoming withdrawn or worse? Has the pandemic exacerbated this? Could connectivity through ‘too much’ of virtual screen time (e.g. video calls/conferencing) become more of a reason to cause to ‘switch off from the social needs deeming it to effect symptoms such as becoming withdrawn?

Not all withdrawn behaviour is alike. People who withdraw can fall into several categories described base on why they withdraw. (e.g. loneliness, grief, illness or trauma)

5. Reduced concentration

Reduced concentration or difficulty concentrating for most people will be both a normal and intermittent occurrence. Emotional stress and tiredness are the common factors that affect concentration.

Other elements that contribute to concentration or how we think being affected are linked to hormonal changes and imbalances (e.g. menopause or pregnancy).

In extreme cases where concentration loss is excessive, it indicates that there may be certain cause for concern with either physical or psychological conditions.

We have heard of the known condition of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that is diagnosed in both children and adults in recent years that associates reduced or difficult concentration as part of its diagnosis.

Other factors that can lead to reduced or impaired concentration include neurological disorders, emotional issues, hunger and cancer treatments (e.g. chemo brain).

6. Increased Anxiety

What do we understand anxiety to be? The NHS defines this to be “a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe”.

We all feel symptoms of anxiety at points in our life, from worry about test results through to getting through exams and job interviews. Severe or increased anxiety is where people find it hard to control their worries, often spiralling out of control.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions such as, panic disorder, phobias, PTSD (post­ traumatic stress disorder)

GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) looks at the above Symptoms described as a long term condition that causes the feeling of anxiety about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than a single one. (This will be familiar as we measure the NHS’s GAD7 Symptoms within our StressFactor ™ toolkit)

How APeopleBusiness software can help companies identify signs of employee suicidal tendencies

The APeopleBusiness sophisticated analytics engine can help your business identify employees with emotional issues, if you are interested in how, please contact us: info@apeoplebusiness.com

Suicide is preventable, take action now!

  • Samaritans: Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. https://www.samaritans.org – Call 116 123 (UK)
  • Mind: the mental health charity. We’re here to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone. https://www.mind.org.uk
  • Help for suicidal thoughts – NHS: Where to get help if you are having suicidal thoughts, and what to do if you are worried about someone https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide

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