Business in the Community has partnered with Public Health England to produce an online interconnected suite of toolkits to help every organisation support the mental and physical health and wellbeing of its employees.
Employers have a crucial role to play in suicide prevention. People in work spend about one-third of their lives at their place of employment. Colleagues and line managers can provide an important social and emotional support network, built on shared experiences. Employers are in a unique position to help colleagues understand the importance of wellbeing and good mental health, and the knowledge of how to keep safe and well and how to spot the signs of being unwell.
Employers can also create an environment in which employees are able to talk openly about how they feel, and to ask for help when they need it without fear of discrimination or prejudice. This may be as simple as recognising when employees are going through a difficult time, and responding by enabling them to take time off, encouraging them to seek help and offering it if it’s appropriate. We need to reduce the stigma around admitting that there will always be times when we are struggling to cope.
This is an important step to tackling stigma surrounding suicide. Suicidal thoughts are far more common than people realise – one in five adults say they have thought about taking their own life at some point. But the vast majority will not go on to take their own life, and the truth is, we just don’t talk about it enough. Stigma makes it embarrassing or frightening to tell another person, but talking is absolutely critical to getting help.
Employers can give employees, particularly managers, the skills they need to help reduce the risk of suicide and to prevent this tragic loss of life. Board members and senior managers can show leadership by joining the workplace conversation around mental health, and demonstrating that acknowledging vulnerability is a strength and a normal aspect of working life. When organisations lack the internal resources to provide appropriate support, they should not hesitate to seek help from outside.
The message from this toolkit is that suicide is preventable, but prevention requires leadership, commitment and understanding from everyone. This toolkit sets out simple steps that you can take to embed an approach to mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention in the workplace that could save someone’s life.
Postvention refers to the actions taken by an organisation to provide support after someone dies by suicide. Effective support can help people to grieve and recover and is a critical element in preventing further suicides from happening. There is no single or right way to respond to suicide, but effective postvention plans can ensure that timely and appropriate care and support is provided. This can help individuals recover quicker, manage the impact on the organisation and can ultimately reduce the risk of further deaths by suicide.