Real Talk with KALAP (September Episode) – Suicide Prevention

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month, KALAP Executive Director, Danielle Hall, recently sat down with Monice Kurz, Director of the Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center, to discuss suicide prevention.

Resources discussed in this video include:

Suicide Awareness Month 2020

To raise awareness, the month of September is recognized as National Suicide Awareness Month. It is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly stigmatized topic. Its mission is to bring awareness to suicide and to prevent it.

Suicide is an important subject matter we should be discussing more within the legal profession. According to the Center for Disease Control, lawyers rank fourth in the rate of suicide in terms of professions and have six times the suicide rate as the general population. In 2016, the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Study revealed 11% of lawyers reporting having suicidal thoughts at some point during their legal career. According to the Survey on Law Student Well-Being conducted that same year, 6% of law students reported having serious suicidal thoughts in the past year.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, the warning signs of acute suicide risk include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

It is important to note these warning signs are not always communicated directly or outwardly.

Additional warning signs include:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving away prized possessions or seeking long-term care for pets

If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, please visit bethe1to.com for more information on helping someone in crisis. If you have had thoughts of suicide, please seek help by calling KALAP for immediate assistance or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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International Bar Association Survey on Lawyer Well-Being

The International Bar Association (IBA) has embarked on a global project aimed at addressing the mental wellbeing of legal professionals as COVID-19 exacerbates tensions in professional and personal lives. The key initial phase of the project consists of two global surveys – one for individual lawyers, the other for law firms and other legal institutions, including bar associations, law societies and in-house legal departments. Available in both English and Spanish, the surveys are anonymous and take approximately ten minutes to complete.

The IBA Individual Lawyer Wellbeing Survey can be accessed here.
The IBA Institutional Wellbeing Survey is available here.

The data gathered from the completed surveys will provide insight into:

  • the pressing mental health concerns of legal professionals;
  • the support they can expect to receive from their workplaces;
  • how the wellbeing of lawyers and other stakeholders in the legal profession are affected by their work and working environments;
  • identifying problems that each might have faced in getting the help they needed; and
  • what law firms, bars and law societies should be doing to support those in distress.

Data gathered from the surveys will be discussed in detail by the IBA’s Wellbeing Taskforce in a showcase session at the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference in November.