Businesses in the UK aren’t doing enough to prevent work-related suicides, according to the Hazards Campaign ahead of World Suicide Prevention day on 10 September.
Gathered using data from the Office for National Statistics, Hazards Campaign research found as many as 650 suicides in the UK each year could be work-related, equalling 10% of all suicides in the country.
The research highlights how the UK does not monitor or legally recognise suicides which are deemed to be work-related, unlike other countries such as the U.S., Japan and France.
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Aisling Traynor, head of advice and training at Mental Health UK, said companies should take responsibility and make employees feel comfortable enough to discuss their issues at work.
She told HR magazine: “Employers must facilitate an open and honest culture where staff feel as comfortable as possible discussing their mental health. Mental health awareness training can be a good place to start, equipping managers with the skills to have supportive conversations, develop wellbeing plans with staff and set boundaries.
“Managers should also lead by example, demonstrating they prioritise their own wellbeing by taking regular breaks, logging off at a reasonable time and planning annual leave. If staff need professional support with their mental health, it is important for managers to know how and when to signpost them to help.”
Traynor added that jobs can be a double edged sword which provide purpose, but also contribute to feeling burnt out.
She added: “Our jobs can be fulfilling, providing us with a sense of purpose and helping us to grow as people. But they can also be a source of tension and strain.
“Pressure is a natural part of many jobs and can help to motivate us, but if pressure becomes too much or lasts for too long it can lead to stress. If this is then not managed well by employers, it can spur burnout and poor mental health.
Tania Johnston, clinical psychologist at digital mental health provider Koa Health, called for more suicide prevention resources in the workplace.
Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Suicide is a complex issue, however, what’s clear is the significant need for improved mental health and suicide prevention resources, especially in the workplace. Not all suicides can be prevented, but employers can take action to help prevent crises, support survivors, and ensure at-risk employees don’t slip through the cracks.”
A specific action plan around mental health, Johnston added, would help to assist workers who have survived suicide attempts as well as those who are struggling.
She added: “Employers should design and implement a plan to help prioritise mental health, prevent suicide and manage and communicate an employee’s suicide or suicide attempt. This should be done in a way that protects an employee’s privacy and personal information but doesn’t neglect to address the event’s impact on their colleagues.
“Employers also need to consider what resources to include for surviving colleagues in the short and longer-term—such as access to trained health workers and to mental health support services”.