a postvention toolkit for employers · PDF file 2020-05-10 · Suicide by numbers:...

Click here to load reader

  • date post

  • Category


  • view

  • download


Embed Size (px)

Transcript of a postvention toolkit for employers · PDF file 2020-05-10 · Suicide by numbers:...

  • In association with Supported by

    Crisis management in the event of a suicide: a postvention toolkit for employers

  • Contents

    Introduction & forewords Checklist of actions 3

    Overview of suicide statistics 4

    Introduction 5

    What is postvention? 6

    Death in service 6

    What this toolkit will do 7

    SMEs 7

    Foreword by Chris Train 8

    Foreword by Ruth Sutherland 9

    Foreword by Tony Vickers-Byrne 10

    1/ Be prepared 11 Manage mental health in the workplace 12

    Training for line managers 12

    Form a postvention committee 13

    Developing your postvention protocols 14

    Postvention protocol considerations 15

    Communications 16

    Ensuring accuracy of information is reported 16

    Communication guidelines 17

    Social media 18

    Expert view – the legal perspective 19

    2/ When suicide happens 20

    When death by suicide occurs in the workplace 21

    Speaking with the family 22

    When death by suicide occurs outside of the workplace 22

    Protecting the privacy of the deceased 22

    Risk of contagion 23

    Coroner’s inquest 24

    Expert view 24

    3/ Grieving, post-traumatic phase 25

    Supporting the healing and recovery process 26

    Answering the unanswerable questions 27

    Support and promote healthy grieving 28

    Getting back to “normal” 29

    Reinforce and build trust in organisational leadership 30

    Group discussion and support sessions 30

    Recommendations for group sessions 31

    Memorials and related events 32

    4/ Legacy Phase 34 Time to talk 35

    Prepare for reactions to anniversaries, events and milestones 36

    Expert views 36

    5/ Reflection time 38 Effective crisis management 39

    Postvention protocol review: key questions 40

    Mental health at work: key questions 41

    Call to action 42

    Resources for employers 43

    Case studies 46


  • Introduction


    Actions to take in the immediate aftermath of a suspected suicide:

    Convene postvention committee/ensure that roles are understood and covered

    Log details of fatality. Update as more information becomes available

    Notify board and senior management

    Make contact with family

    Co-ordinate arrangements with emergency services (when death has taken place on site)

    Issue statement to colleagues

    Contact Employee Assistance Programme provider (when available)

    Make arrangements for counselling provision, including appropriate accommodation

    Ensure support resources are available

    Identify team members and colleagues who were closest to the deceased

    Activate death in service arrangements

    Approve time off for colleagues

    Notify clients/supply chain where appropriate

    Ensure line managers have appropriate support, both operationally and emotionally

    Important note

    This toolkit is designed to support employers in their response to the suicide of an employee, at work or outside the workplace. For this reason, this toolkit refers to ‘suicide’ rather than ‘suspected suicide’.

    Please note that the cause of death may not be formally established for days or weeks. Further, legal confirmation of suicide as the cause of death can only be made by a coroner following an inquest, which usually takes several months to complete. The verdict might not be one which you or employees expected so it is helpful to be conscious that this is a period of uncertainty. It might be helpful for your communications at this time to reference ‘suspected suicide’ to enable conversations.

    This toolkit provides advice when there is strong evidence that suicide is the cause of death, and when the community – colleagues, relatives and friends – are responding to what they believe is a suicide and so experiencing the corresponding impact and emotions. The support and resources needed in this scenario are outlined here.

    This toolkit is designed to help organisations adopt a strategy to reduce the risk of a suicide that will have an impact on the workplace. In this context, the term ‘workplace suicide’ is understood to be a suicide in or outside the workplace, which may involve an employee or contractor, or a family member or close friend of an employee or contractor. It may also concern a significant customer or supplier, or a person who is important to the organisation, such as a union representative.

    Introduction & Forewords

    Introduction 3

  • Suicide by numbers: Suicide by age and gender:

    Risk factors

    In 2015 suicides were registered in England.4,820

    This corresponds to a suicide rate

    of 10.1 per 100,000 people

    15.4 per 100,000

    for men

    5.0 per 100,000 for women

    of all suicides were by people who had contact with mental health services in the past 12 months


    Highest rates for men = 22.4 deaths per 100,000

    in 45-59 age group

    Second highest rates for men = 2.2 deaths per 100,000

    in 30-44 age group

    Highest rates for women = 8.1 deaths per 100,000

    in 45-59 age group

    Second highest rates for women = 6.9 deaths per 100,000

    in 30-44 age group

    Previous suicidal behaviour or exposure to bereavement by suicide

    A psychiatric illness (e.g. depressive disorder, substance use disorder)

    Psychological characteristics (including hopelessness, impulsiveness)

    Medical conditions causing chronic pain

    Early negative life experiences (including losing a parent at an early age, abuse)

    Alcohol and/or drug misuse

    Warning signs

    Direct: • Talking/writing about wanting to die or hurt

    or kill oneself

    • Talking/writing about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

    • Talking/writing about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

    • Talking/writing about being a burden to others

    • Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online for suicide methods or seeking access to firearms, pills or other means of suicide

    Indirect: • Changes in productivity – Deterioration in work – Lethargy in a previously energetic person – New pattern of unexplained lateness or absences – New inability to concentrate on work or complete work

    • Changes in social functioning – Withdrawal from colleagues, increased isolation

    • Changes in personality – Extreme mood swings – Acting anxious or agitated – Showing rage or uncontrolled anger – Behaving recklessly

    • Increased alcohol or drug use

    • Changes in eating/sleeping patterns

    * Source: ONS (2016) Suicides in the UK: 2015 registrations and NCISH (2016) Annual report and 20 year review

    of all suicides in England are men75%

    Introduction & Forewords


  • Suicide is now the leading cause of death among young people aged from 20 to 34. Men are nearly three times as likely as women to die as a result of suicide. But the female suicide rate in England is at its highest since 2005.

    Suicide is an issue for everyone. For employers, it is increasingly likely that your organisation will be affected by suicide, either through the death of an employee or of someone who has a significant role in the business, such as a supplier or a contractor.

    Death by suicide can have a profound effect on a business and its employees. Organisations need to be able to respond by providing support to their employees to help them come to terms with their loss while ensuring that the impact on your organisation and its day-to-day activities is contained. The role of the employer, and of the line manager, is absolutely critical.

    Suicide prevention should be an integral part of a positive and proactive approach to mental health at work. But no mental health policy can ever eliminate the risk of suicide. So it is of paramount importance to incorporate a suicide postvention protocol into a company’s crisis management strategy.

    In the event of a death by suicide, an appropriate response helps employees to come to terms with the loss of a colleague and friend while making it possible for an organisation to learn from one of the most difficult employee situations it will face.

    “This is the first comprehensive toolkit I have seen for employers which offers practical advice on suicide postvention. Many of us have to start from scratch when writing workplace guidance on this subject so this toolkit will really help organisations who have not yet done so, as well as helping others to improve their approach.”

    Judith Grant, Group Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Royal Mail Group

    “Reducing the risk of suicide is everyone’s business. Employers have a major role to play by encouraging good mental health at work and a culture of inclusiveness. Suicide is rare but organisations need to be prepared to respond to the death of an employee. This suicide postvention toolkit gives employers clear advice about how to support colleagues, relatives and friends at such a difficult time, which will help them and the organisation move forward.”

    Poppy Jaman, CEO Mental Health First Aid England

    Help is at Hand

    Help is at Hand is a valuable