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Suicides-Workplace Violence Increase During Holidays www.privateofficer.com
Dec 3 2012
Private Officer International
Now deep into another holiday season, many people are struggling with grief, loneliness, depression, sadness, recent loss of loved ones and emptiness.
While most of us will never know who these people are because they have found ways to hide their sorrows and despair and publicly will never show those areas, others will cross our paths and reveal themselves.
Some will be withdrawn, their happiness and common smiles will be less frequent while others will reveal themselves in ways that may alarm, disrupt and threaten public safety.
Early Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher involved in a turbulent relationship with his girlfriend, shot and killed her at an apartment complex and then drove to the football practice field where he committed suicide in front of his coach and a member of the management team.
Christopher Krumm, 22, entered the CasperCommunity College in Wyoming on Friday and confronted his father who was teaching a class. During the altercation the man shot his father in the head with a bow and arrow in front of a computer science class not long after fatally stabbing his father’s live-in girlfriend at their home a couple of miles away.
The son then committed suicide before police could arrest him. Police now say that the son had driven from VernonConnecticut to commit these acts of violence.
Just since the Thanksgiving holiday week-end there have been more than a dozen violent workplace incidents involving assaults, shootings, stabbings and murder.
Suicides at the workplace have been steadily increasing and law enforcement and mental health officials say that there are a number of factors for this increase including the economy and the fact that many employees are unhappy with jobs that were taken at a lower wage after loss of a better job and signs also point to the increase in domestic violence which now often spills over at the workplace.
Dr. Joyce Walker, a psychotherapist says that the holidays are often not happy times for thousands of people who have no family or are estranged from them, those with financial problems, the elderly, people suffering from severe substance abuse, and many people who do not have a good support system.
The holidays can spark outrage and suicidal attempts and some people looking to end their year of hell will sometimes take extreme violent measures in public places.
Suicide attempts and successful suicides often increase between November and Janaury.
Security officers working in areas with public access such as shopping malls, entertainment venues, schools and office buildings should take note of individuals who seem disoriented, those acting aggressively toward spouses, co-workers or the general public, employees who are usually happy and talkative who suddenly become quiet, withdrawn or whose personalities have gone to the other extreme of being loud and defiant.
Officers should also be on alert for arguments between an employee and an unknown person in parking lots, office lobbies or unauthorized or restricted areas that are loud, aggressive, threatening, and disruptive or look out of place. The employee may also show signs of being afraid, agitated, cornered or signal you for help.
Though there are many signs that someone may have suicidal thoughts or may be in the process of planning to take their own life, not everyone will reveal themselves in the same manner and some not at all.
Nearly 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year, with anywhere from 10 million to 20 million suicide attempts annually. About 30,000 people reportedly kill themselves each year in the United States. The true number of suicides is likely higher because some deaths that were thought to be an accident, like a single-car accident, overdose, or shooting, are not recognized as being a suicide. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in males and the 16th leading cause of death in females.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people 10-24 years of age.
Warning Signs of Suicide
These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as 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.
• Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
Additional Warning Signs of Suicide
• Preoccupation with death.
• Suddenly happier, calmer.
• Loss of interest in things one cares about.
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
• Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
• Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.
While most officers are not trained in mental health emergencies or workplace violence, commonsense, alertness, sensitivity and informed response will help guide the officer to making the appropriate assessment about a particular situation or person and taking the right steps to get immediate help.
Many times after workplace violence or a suicide incident, co-workers and family members report seeing abrupt changes in a persons daily routine or demeanor, signs that were there but not seen until it was too late.
Being observant is part of the basic duties of private and public officers and knowing the signs of potential trouble, depression, changes in an employee’s habits, routines, personality or associates and assessment and immediate response could help to thwart a workplace incident or the loss of life.