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.

We 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.

What does our Critical Incident Response to Suicide look like?

Our on-site Critical Incident Response service typically includes:

1. a briefing with the relevant manager

2. an information session conducted by our experienced practitioners and offered to affected staff in a group setting. This session provides psycho-education to staff including information on what to expect in terms of physical and emotional responses to a suicidal event, and how to manage those responses and care for yourself and others. Essentially, this aspect of the Critical Incident Response aims to normalise common emotional responses to an event involving suicide or attempted suicide. This session also gives staff an opportunity to ask any questions they might have.

3. time allocated on-site to allow affected individuals to have private sessions with our counsellor, if desired.

4. recommendations for follow up, if required, including the identification of any employees who might require monitoring and/or ongoing support.

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 considerate about sharing details about the suicide with persons who may not need to know, or may not want to know, the details. Sharing details that outline the method of death can increase the risk of suicide for other vulnerable individuals and can also be potentially traumatising for others.

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.

Promote Better Suicide Awareness in the Future

An event involving suicide or attempted suicide often leaves colleagues and friends stunned, and left feeling a range of emotions including shock, guilt and anger. Poor mental health often goes unrecognised by friends and colleagues, and so learning the warning signs, and knowing what you can do to help, becomes an essential tool in mitigating the risk of a suicidal event. Our short Mental Health Awareness courses, delivered on-site in your offices, can help your staff and management teams improve their understanding of mental health issues, helping them to recognise common symptoms and be better placed to help colleagues in need. This is something you might wish to consider offering once the immediate impact of the suicidal event has been addressed.

We can help

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.

Contact us today to discuss your Corporate Workshop needs.

“What fantastic training provided on mental health in the workplace and the importance of educating and empowering our staff on this topic. The team thoroughly enjoyed the workshop which was engaging and lead by the fantastic Katherine Wagner. Thank you Associated EAP.”

Philip Divilly, Managing Director, Quay Appointments

“We have done several training programs with Associated Employee Assistance Providers and have always found the service and consultation of an extremely high standard.”

Toni Williams, L&D Consultant, Sydney Opera House

“Effective and caring advice delivered in an easy to digest method.”

Stephanie Hunt, Human Resources Consultant - Storyful

“Katherine presented to our team of 40 staff at our annual staff symposium and it was absolutely fantastic. Katherine was engaging and really helped all staff members relate better to each other. We were so impressed we wanted her back for a conference of 150 medical practice managers which also went really well. Very happy with the resources provided by Associated Employee Assistance Providers who helped arranged both the above plus follow up articles. Highly recommended.”

Lucy Peters, Practice Managers Chair, Royal Australian & NZ College of Ophthalmologists

Let us tailor an Employee Support package for your business