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  • Writer's pictureRalph Kellogg

Supporting Those Who Are Struggling: Working with Employees Who Feel Suicidal

If an employee discloses that they are feeling suicidal, it's crucial to approach the situation with care and sensitivity. Here are some steps a manager should consider taking:

  • Stay Calm and Listen: Remain calm and composed. Listen actively and empathetically without judgment. Allow the employee to express their feelings and concerns.


  • Take It Seriously: Suicidal thoughts are a serious matter. Avoid minimizing their feelings or making light of the situation. Take the disclosure seriously.


  • Do Not Should the Employee: “You should mediate,” “You should try yoga,” “You should change your diet.” These suggestions are well intended, but these ideas minimize what the person is going through.


  • Do Not Leave the Person Alone: If the employee is in immediate danger, do not leave them alone. If you're physically present, stay with them. If you're communicating remotely, encourage them to reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional, and let them know they are not alone.


  • Provide Resources: Offer information about local crisis hotlines, mental health services, or employee assistance programs (EAPs) that may be available through your organization. Make sure the employee knows how to access these resources. Or encourage the employee to call 988 to speak with a counselor at the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.


  • Respect Confidentiality: While it's important to encourage the employee to seek help, respect their privacy and confidentiality. Avoid sharing their information without their explicit consent unless there is an imminent risk to their safety.


  • Involve HR: Inform your human resources department about the situation. They can provide guidance on company policies, support, and resources available to the employee.


  • Follow Company Policies: Be aware of and follow any company policies related to mental health crises or emergencies. Some organizations have specific procedures in place for handling these situations.


  • Encourage a Supportive Environment: Foster a workplace culture that values mental health and encourages open communication. Employees should feel comfortable discussing their struggles without fear of stigma or reprisal.


  • Follow Up: Check in with the employee regularly to show your ongoing support. Let them know that you care about their well-being and that you are available to help facilitate any necessary accommodations.

Remember, while you can provide initial support, it's essential to involve professionals who are trained to handle mental health crises. Encourage the employee to reach out to mental health professionals or emergency services in their area. If the situation is an immediate emergency, call emergency services or take the person to the nearest emergency room.

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