The HR Director – August 2016 – Suicide Isn’t Painless

Dr Jessica Johns-Green, Counselling Psychologist and CBT Practitioner at Nightingale Hospital highlights the fact that suicide always leaves emotional scars on those connected to the person, and that of course includes co-workers. Sadness, grief and guilt are expected, but research suggests that those who knew a colleague to die by suicide are three times more likely to attempt suicide themselves.

Whether this worrying statistic is because of their connection with a suicidal person or whether it is indicative of a distressing work environment is a matter of debate, but what it does show is that the workplace could be a point of intervention to prevent deaths by suicide. The first step to help those at risk in the workplace is to improve understanding of mental illness and suicide.

The stigma surrounding mental health is usually fuelled by myths and misunderstandings, for instance believing it is something that happens to others not us. There are common misconceptions about depression and suicide that can be addressed to help managers feel more comfortable and the conversation won’t feel rushed. There is no need to be an emotional expert or brush up on counselling skills; the employee doesn’t need you to fix their mood, just knowing support is there can help.

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