Recently, my good lifetime friend, Jim, lost his 14-year-old grandson to suicide. I gave him space and then spoke with him yesterday. The obituary described Ryan as a happy, helpful, good kid. This is how his parents and grandparents perceived him. Yet one day, he told his father that he loved him, then left his home to go to a nearby recreation area. Less than two hours later, the coroner showed up at the father’s front door.

What does this subject have to do with well drilling and safety? The effects of a suicide can reverberate through a family and their workplace. Our companies depend on our experienced personnel to succeed. We try to provide a safe workplace and safety protection and training for our employees, hoping to avoid a lost-time incident that takes away one of those assets — even if just for a couple of days. The sudden loss of a loved one to suicide is a devastation that can last long after a return to work.

I remember speaking with my kids’ elementary school teachers. They told me about how Amanda acted shy and quiet while Nathan had a blabbermouth. This was the exact opposite of how they behaved at home. Do we really know how our children act or think outside our view let alone what any other person goes through? As parents, we can think all is good when, in reality, a child could have deep issues for which they need help. This becomes part of the lingering effects of a suicide. Why didn’t we know? Was there any Indication of a loved one in peril?

In a conversation with my now older son about this recent suicide of my friend’s grandson, I talked about how I know of more people who committed suicide than have died of any other disease or accident. The ages run from the teens to over 60. I was glad to hear about Nathan’s awareness of issues surrounding suicide and how he kept an eye out for signs with own his son.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more people every year die from suicide than HIV, malaria, breast cancer, war or homicide. The rate in the U.S. is rising. How can we help? Perhaps we could implement a suicide awareness and prevention program as part of our safety initiatives. We can include counseling services in our benefit packages, and extend those services to family members. Providing sources of education for recognizing some of the warning signs. Review the risk factors and warning signs listed with this column, as provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The goal of a safety program is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and death. We typically include first aid and CPR in our safety programs. Why not expand those programs to include suicide prevention information and initiatives?

Learn More: Suicide Prevention Guidelines

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, some common risk factors make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt or die by suicide. These factors can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings