Workforce Retention for Suicide Prevention Programs
Paid staff and volunteers are critical to the daily functions of a rural suicide prevention program and its
continued success. Therefore, it is important to consider strategies to retain the program's workforce. Employee
retention is important for maintaining critical suicide prevention services. Salary, benefits, and opportunities
for upward mobility are major components of employee retention. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge for rural
areas where funding may already be limited, salaries are often lower, and positions with upward mobility may be
fewer. Facing these challenges, rural health and mental health employers often lose their trained and qualified
staff to higher-paying jobs in more populated and resource-rich areas. To combat these challenges and retain
both paid employees and volunteers, job satisfaction and fulfillment are crucial to keeping workers engaged.
This can include flexible work schedules, growth and leadership opportunities, and meaningful engagement with
the community and one another. If staff or funds are limited, programs can partner with other organizations in
the community to ensure they can continue to connect patients and clients with needed services.
Many people who pursue work or volunteerism in suicide prevention may have been directly impacted by suicide
themselves. As a result, workers may be very passionate about suicide prevention, bringing energy and new ideas
to the program. However, the work may also be very personal and potentially emotionally
taxing. Programs should take care to ensure that staff and volunteers are given emotional support and
renewal opportunities to avoid burnout.