The Dog That Saved a Life

May 01 2023
By: Shawn M. Galloway

I developed a successful method to get a group of individuals to create a feeling of psychological safety in a workshop. Individuals lower their guard, open up, and candidly share some things that are important to them as individuals. Sometimes, the conversation gets deep and emotional. Recently, one touched me.

The individual, a veteran, admitted previously struggling with PTSD after his return from combat deployment. As he elaborated, he acknowledged that, at the time, he struggled with suicide. In telling his story, we learned that when he was still single and not yet a parent, he decided to end his life one day, sitting alone on the front steps of his house. Man hugging dog At that moment, his dog walked over and sat next to him. He looked at his dog and thought, "He will not understand where I went. He will think I abandoned him. Who will take care of him?" It was that moment his decision changed.

Mental health is a growing concern. Leaders are responsible for their people. This means leaders must know them individually, not just their strengths and weaknesses but also who they are. Leaders must get to know their people so well that they can pick up on small cues that something within an employee has changed or that they are struggling with something outside of work. We ask employees to stop work for safety concerns and see something, say something, and do something. Leaders need to go first. See something? Say something and do something. Life is too precious to let someone struggle alone.

"Be dedicated to change the way in which people see mental illness at all levels of society. If not for yourself, advocate for those who are struggling in silence." — Germany Kent

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." — Brené Brown

"There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn't." — John Green

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

Subscribe to our newsletter