September DEI: Suicide Prevention Month

By Kristine Custodio Suero, ACP

September 2023

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and September 10-16, 2023, is National Suicide Prevention Week. In a recent article, author Jenna Greene wrote: “Lawyers are twice as likely as other US adults to contemplate suicide.” This alarming statistic may provoke thoughts about the risk factors associated with suicidal ideation. Further, what does this mean for the people in lawyer-adjacent roles, like paralegals, who are on the frontlines with the attorneys?

Forbes author, Paula Davis, shares in her article, Stress, Loneliness, & Overcommitment Predict Lawyer Suicide Risk, that the titular factors may contribute to suicide risk and provides suggestions to mitigate these risks. Particularly during these post-pandemic times, stressful workloads for legal professionals have been exacerbated. Developing strategies to address this issue is critical for the wellness of lawyers and their legal teams.

Providing case management training to other team members to share responsibilities and implementing clear case/project plans, assignments, and deadlines is a viable strategy for attorneys to rely on others on the frontlines with them. Another point made by Davis is to focus on belonging, or a “core psychological need that activates intrinsic motivation at work.” Strategies to develop belonging include active listening, words or acts of encouragement such as thank you notes, recognition, and providing extracurricular opportunities such as writing, speaking, or developing affinity work groups on behalf of the firm. While these suggestions may help to mitigate suicidal ideation risk factors, Davis points out that the legal profession as a whole has a problem with chronic stress. She identifies six core causes:

  • Unmanageable workload (you feel like you’re treading water with your workload and that, at any moment, you could sink)
  • Lack of recognition (no feedback; you rarely, if ever, hear thank you)
  • Lack of community (not feeling a sense of belonging at work; very little leader/colleague support)
  • Unfairness (favoritism; arbitrary decision-making; organizational politics and red tape)
  • Values disconnect (what you find important about work doesn’t match the work environment you’re in)
  • Lack of autonomy (not having a choice as to how and when you perform the tasks related to your work)

The author goes on to state, “In fact, three of these causes – unmanageable workload, having low autonomy, and lack of community – are among the top 10 most prominent workplace issues that impact your health and longevity.”

As we go through the month of September, take a moment to reflect on this important issue of mental health and well-being, especially when it comes to those in your sphere of influence.



Kristine Custodio Suero, ACP is an award-winning legal professional, a published author, and a highly sought-after speaker. A true servant leader, she has led the San Diego Paralegal Association and California Alliance of Paralegal Associations as President. Kristine teaches legal courses for a local San Diego paralegal program and lends her time to the program’s advisory board. Kristine is the Chair of the NALA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, a past member of the NALA Professional Development Committee and Continuing Education Council, and the former Ethics Chair. Kristine is a Senior Paralegal/Business Development Director for Butterfield Schechter LLP and may be reached at