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Rural Health Information Hub

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.