By Renee Sieradski, EA

Last month, a colleague told me she had lost her son to suicide a few years back, and then another friends daughter had a failed suicide attempt.

If I were to count how many personal friends and family I’ve lost to suicide, it’s 10 people. If I expand to colleagues, acquaintances, and their families, that’s another 10. I don’t know if this is an average statistic or if my count is higher.

As a person who has struggled with suicidal thoughts since pre-teen years, I know the feeling of the deep relentless pain and wanting it to stop. Thankfully I’ve always found the right people and medications to help with those feelings.

My cousin Becky who took her life at age 18. She had the biggest, most beautiful smile and was always so kind to me.

My husband and I are approaching our 20-year wedding anniversary. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, he has bipolar disorder. According to the textbooks, he is at a higher risk for suicide than I am because most medications are ineffective for him.

We’ve figured out the secret to him staying stable is a combination of several factors including an obscure medication called Clozaril, not traveling long distances, avoiding crowds if he is in an irritable mood, and going to sleep at the same time every night.

I realize there may come a day when he gives up the fight against bipolar disorder. I, of course, would be devastated. He’s the love of my life. He was my first kiss, taught me how to drive a stick-shift and how to have humor in life. And he makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. We’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart and he is an amazing person. I don’t know how I would live without him.

When he first became ill, I used to leave work, run home and check on him almost daily out of the fear of losing him to suicide. I’ve since learned that if he was going to take his life, he would find a way no matter what magical, perfect words I came up with. I’ve learned to let go of the terror of losing him. I would like to think somehow me letting go of controlling whether or not he would take his life has empowered him to think it through for himself.
I have to take life one day at a time
I heard the most beautiful quote and wanted to share: “Your heart is full of a new storehouse of love every day that you wake up and if you don’t give it away, it’s gone forever.”

On to Finances:

On July 1, Arizona instituted a new law requiring employers to give their employees paid sick time. The only exceptions to this law being government employers and sole proprietor employers. It used to be only full-time employees received paid sick time but it now includes part-time, and seasonal or temporary workers. It, however, does not include contract workers.

The new law requires 24 hours of paid sick time per year, per employee for businesses with 14 or fewer workers and 40 hours for businesses with 15 or more people.

Another facet of this law is employees may request to use their sick time for other issues. Sick leave may be taken if an employee is dealing with domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking issues, or the closing of a child’s school. The time may also be used for meeting with lawyers, arranging housing, or problems within the family.

An employer may only request proof of sick time when an employee has been absent for three consecutive days. Proof may be provided by way of a letter from an attorney, a doctor’s note, a police report, or a statement written by the employee. In the case of a written statement from the employee, he is not required to state why he needed the time off, but the time off was necessary. Employers are generally required to grant requests for sick leave. They are also required to keep records of accrued time off for each employee. These records of paid sick time, whether accrued or used, must be retained for four years. Employee paystubs should show the amount of sick time used and the amount available for use. This new law must also be posted in a conspicuous area where all employees can see it such as the breakroom. Employers should also have a company policy in place that clearly states, in writing, what happens to unused sick time if an employee is fired or quits.