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How Managers Can Help Staff After a Suicide

When an employee commits suicide, it sends shockwaves throughout the organization. Each individual may react differently, depending on their relationship with the employee, their past losses, earlier experiences with suicide loss, and other current stressors. Organizations that don't take time to acknowledge the current loss may prolong or worsen the impact of the loss. The following steps can help managers help their staff after a suicide.

Contact PAS

Call PAS (919-416-1727) to consult about what to expect after a suicide and discuss what might be helpful for your workgroup. A PAS or Critical Incident Response counselor can meet with affected employees. Read the information on the PAS website here.

Acknowledge the Suicide

Take time to acknowledge the suicide with your employees, and to acknowledge your feelings, and the feelings of the employees. It is very difficult for employees when management fails to acknowledge the impact the unexpected death of an employee has on the workforce. When managers signal "business as usual" by not acknowledging the loss, employees feel angry and resentful on behalf of the employee who died, and on their own behalf. Common thoughts include "Why am I putting so much effort into this work - if I died tomorrow, would no one notice?"

Take Care of Yourself

Remember, this loss also affects you; you may experience any of the normal reactions to suicide. These reactions may make it more difficult for you to function at work or home. All of the resources suggested for your employees are also meant for you. You will be able to serve your employees best if you pay attention to your own needs and avail yourself of available services.

For more information on steps managers can take after a suicide see A Manager's Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace**.

**Copyright © 2013 Carson J Spencer Foundation, All Rights Reserved.