Suicide Prevention Day: What would you do?

Suicide Prevention Day: What would you do?

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and to mark it we would like to present an everyday vignette showing how suicide can present in the workplace, and ask what would your advice be for the well-meaning supervisor at the centre of the story?

You are a new supervisor in an office-based job, in which you are still finding your feet and uncertain of your role. Your line manager is proving difficult and unsupportive and generally seems lacking in the ‘softer skills’.

You notice that a young staff member, Becky, aged about twenty, seems withdrawn and vulnerable and you want to offer help. Becky reports to someone else on the team, and your chances of interacting with her in the course of the working day are slight.

However, you run into Becky during a quiet moment at the coffee machine which gives you an opportunity to have a word with her. You ask ‘How’s everything going?’ and add ‘If you ever need to chat or have any problems, anything at all, just pop by my office’. She never does.

You’ve also noticed Sarah, late thirties, who carries a small yellow rucksack with a big smiley face and exudes an intensity that may hint at some inner turmoil. One afternoon Sarah comes into your office.

She’s clearly troubled but hesitates to speak. Then she blurts out her worries about Becky who has just disclosed that she attempted suicide the previous night. Sarah adds that Becky fortunately didn’t know how to cut her wrists ‘properly’ and so has not hurt herself badly.

You desperately try to recall what training you’ve had to deal with a situation like this and realise you’ve had none. You realise that you must deal with this immediate situation on your own…
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