Lifeline Aotearoa and Lion New Zealand are working to advance the zero-suicide movement in New Zealand with the pilot launch of a workplace support program.

The Lifeline program helps businesses advance employee health and wellbeing, build resilience and equip employees with specific suicide awareness and prevention skills. The program includes a wellness policy audit, an employee wellbeing survey, policy and process development, suicide prevention training and ongoing 24/7 support options available through the Lifeline helpline.

Recent figures show that 46% of those that ended their lives were in employment. Likewise, Lifeline data reveals that callers who are actively planning suicide are twice as likely to be suffering from workplace stress than callers who are assessed as low risk for suicide.

“It makes sense to open up communication channels and support networks in the places New Zealanders spend most of their waking lives – at work. This is ultimately about prevention and the aim is to equip Kiwis with the skills to recognise distress, know how to ask brave questions and what to do with the answers. These skills are taken home to family, friends and the community to effect a wider social change,” said Glenda Schnell, Executive Director at Lifeline.

The Lifeline/Lion initiative was announced in October 2018 and has become the world’s first zero suicide workplace platform catering for all business sectors. Schnell added: “Lion was chosen to pilot the program as they are already quite far along on their journey with a well-established employee mental health and wellbeing platform. They also employ around 1200 people in NZ, giving us the chance to trial the program with a diverse and large workplace.”

Lion NZ Managing Director, Rory Glass, said: “We put the safety and wellbeing of our people above all else. If we can have brave conversations, speak up and openly discuss the issue in the workplace, we can reduce some of the stigma and provide an environment where our people feel they can come forward for help if they need it. We all need to play a part and we’ll be working with Lifeline to share our experience with other businesses as the pilot is rolled out more widely.”

The program is expected to extend to other businesses nationwide from March 2019.