Suicidal thoughts are far more common than many people think, but there can be extensive stigma in talking about suicide. Too few employers have frameworks that encourage the kind of climate where people can talk to someone about suicide and find ways to seek help. Most managers and employees have never received education or training to deal with a situation where someone discloses suicidal feelings.

This guide aims to address that gap by providing practical advice and guidance on how organisations can educate their workforce and make it easier to open up and talk about suicide. 

By creating a non-stigmatising culture and a safe space to talk, employers can play an important role in signposting people to the sort of professional support they need.

Please note that we are not providing occupational health (OH) or legal advice, but rather, practical guidance to best support people at times of difficulty. 

The guides offers advice on:

  • why suicide is a workplace issue
  • understanding suicide
  • creating a supportive and positive culture for mental health
  • responding to suicide risk
  • support after suicide.

An organisation’s response to suicide risk should be part of its wider approach to addressing mental health. Therefore this guide should be read in conjunction with the CIPD and Mind’s people manager’s guide to mental health to improve support for those experiencing stress and mental health issues.  

Useful definitions

Why is suicide a workplace issue?

Understanding suicide

Many people find it uncomfortable to discuss such a sensitive subject as suicide. Consequently, there are many misconceptions about it. The first step in creating a culture where people can seek help if they have suicidal thoughts and are struggling is through education. This needs to be done carefully and sensitively, as part of a wider wellbeing strategy, building a culture where it’s safe to talk about suicide.

Create a supportive and positive culture for mental health

Responding to suicide risk

Senior leaders and people professionals should role-model compassion and kindness, and show leadership by encouraging every manager and employee to take mental health issues seriously. They should take steps to educate and train the workforce about suicide. This includes fostering a culture in which people can reach out to those in distress, and where asking for help is not seen as a sign of weakness. It is important to remember that suicidal thoughts are much more common than is imagined.

Support after suicide

Further resources

This checklist is intended to serve as a reminder of the key actions to take if you are required to respond to risk of suicide.

Responding to risk of suicide checklist
PDF document 1.1 MB

This checklist outlines the key actions to take to respond to death by suicide.

Responding to death by suicide checklist
PDF document 3.5 MB

Acknowledgements

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