Responding to Workplace Suicide

If your workplace has recently been affected by suicide, we can help.

Studies have shown that psychological first aid plays an important role in reducing the long-term impact of emotional trauma. It is also vital that at times like these your employees feel properly supported, know what to expect and are appropriately monitored for emotional fallout.

Professional Support After SuicideWe recommend two key approaches when assisting workplaces affected by suicide:

1)    IMMEDIATE SUPPORT. Our Critical Incident Response service includes the provision of Psychological First-Aid by an experience CIR practitioner, psycho-education for both managers and staff, and, if required, up to 4 weeks monitoring of identified employees. We are usually able to provide on-site support within 72 hours, but usually sooner.

2)    ACCESS TO EAP COUNSELLING. We generally recommend that all employees who have been exposed to a suicide or suicidal attempt be given access to counselling support if they feel they might need it. This can be provided by your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or, if your company does not have an existing EAP arrangement, we can set you up with our ‘pay-as-you-use’ program within minutes.

Of course, we recognise that every traumatic event is unique, so please contact us to discuss the most effective approach to supporting the particular experience of your workers.

Note that Trauma Debriefing is no longer considered to be a best practice response to a critical incident.

Guidelines for Responding to Suicide in the Workplace

An effective response to a death by suicide or attempted suicide is crucial in reducing the impact on other employees, so while you wait for our Critical Incident Response practitioner, you may wish to consider the following guidelines:

1.    Approach the situation with compassion and sensitivity

2.    Consider your usual policies for dealing with other forms of grief and trauma, and base your response on that. Too much deviation from your usual practices could be seen as stigmatising.

3.    Recognise that reactions may vary. Everybody reacts to trauma in his or her own way. Some might react with visible emotion, some may contain their emotion, and indeed, others may not feel much emotion at all.  A variety of reactions (or non-reactions) is totally normal. Our critical incident service understands this, and can help you to identify and support those at-risk.

4.    Be wary of contagion effects. Hearing about the death by suicide or attempted suicide of a colleague may trigger suicidal ideations in other vulnerable staff members. Dramatised or sensational details, or those that outline the method of death can increase the risk of vulnerable individuals imitating that behaviour.

5.    Support the grieving process. Encourage self-care by allowing employees to take time off or lighten their workload. Involve interested employees in organising a tribute or attending the funeral.

6.    Ensure that your staff have prompt access to emotional support and accurate information to assist them to deal with the psychological impact of a potentially traumatic experience.

If your workplace has been affected by suicide, please don’t hesitate to call us on (02) 8007 74 74 and we will do our best to support you and your staff through this difficult time.