Work suicide is connected to many negative experiences, including bullying, harrassment, job insecurity, too much being asked of you, being underestimated and overlooked, or being treated badly.
But many high profile suicides are simply linked to high stress. How is this possible?
(If you are going to act on your thoughts, please call emergency services or go to your nearest A&E. If you desparately need to talk to someone, call the Good Samaritans on 116 123. Trained listeners are waiting and happy to talk with you. Don't hesitate. Call.)
Stress is an incredibly insiduous force that pulls us into survival mode, where we are so caught up with battling what is directly in front of us we lose the bigger picture. We convince ourselves we are coping, even if everyone around us tries to point out we are not.
But if we we can realise the ways stress works, and that we are under its spell? We can understand we are not what our stress-driven thoughts are telling us.
If your life has become nothing but work for long enough, you can begin to make the dangerous mistake of thinking you ARE your job. If the job doesn’t pan out, you can think you have no value.
But nobody is just their job.
When we are really stressed, our mind can feel crystal clear. This is actually caused by the chemicals the body releases during stress, but we can convince ourselves these are 'revelations'.
On the contrary. Stress leads to what psychology calls ‘distorted thinking’ -- thoughts that deviate from reality.
Distorted thought such as “I am letting everyone down”, “everyone will see me as a failure” mean that we can withdraw even from people who are not connected to our job stress, like friends and family.
We lose sight of the fact that other people value us for more than our job title, and need us just for who we are.
And we also lose sight of the fact that support is crucial when we are stressed. Suicidal thoughts thrive on loneliness and feeling different, but fade when we realise we are just like everyone else.
Workplace stress, particularly if you are working long hours on little sleep with no time to see family, or indulge your hobbies? Can mean that suddenly all you see is work. Success and ‘not letting your boss down’ can start to feel like all that matters.
Workplace stress can mean we aren’t sleeping, skip the gym, are reaching for alcohol and recreational drugs more than we usually would, and are bingeing on fat and sugar laden foods which leave us on highs and lows of energy.
Workplace stress is often exacerbated by competitive environments that prey on insecurities. Suddenly we feel not good enough, or as if we are in a job we are under qualified for. When the truth is that all jobs have a learning curve, and it’s normal to not always get it right.
Said yes to a project you deep down aren’t comfortable with because you were so stressed you didn't have energy to question it? Or working with a new boss who is secretly breaking rules, and you feel you have to go along with it?
Personal values are the things we hold as most important. When we live by them, we feel good. But going against them can feel a sort of torture.
Therapy is not about being crazy or in pieces. Therapy is about reaching out when you need someone to talk to so that you never need to reach burnout in the first place.
And if you are having suicidal thoughts, the time to reach out is now. As soon as you can, call a friend you trust and take the leap of admitting you are struggling. Or call a help line. Then gather your courage and book a session with a therapist who will understand what you are going through and not judge.
Ready to stop workplace stress from giving you suicidal thinking? And to remember that you are worth more than any job could ever be? Book a therapist today and get talking to someone who understands.