When you experience suicide at work
There are some places of work where witnessing a suicide can happen more frequently. For emergency services, railway staff, coastguard and seafront teams there may be an increased chance of being affected by suicide.
If you are affected by suicide while you are working, regardless of your role or what you are trained for, the advice and guidance in this resource applies equally to you.
Understanding emotions after a suicide incident
It is completely normal to have a human, empathetic response to a traumatic event. It is also normal to feel a range of emotions and physical symptoms, from shock and sadness to guilt and helplessness.
Not every workplace will have policies and processes in place to support someone affected by a suicide. You can access further support or visit Grassroots Suicide Prevention to read more about the experiences of other professionals and organisations.
People who have experienced suicide at work told us what has helped them:
Don’t bottle it up. Having an emotional or physical reaction to death by suicide is normal, regardless of how many times you have experienced this. Specialists in trauma believe that by working through every traumatic event as it happens, complications such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be avoided.
You may feel more comfortable talking to someone outside your workplace, such as a friend or family member. There are organisations who can offer help over the phone, check the support pages here.
Have a debrief. Some workplaces have processes in place to hold a debrief after a colleague experiences a traumatic event. These processes exist to support you, not to judge your actions. It is an opportunity to talk about what has happened and to let those around you know if there is anything you might need to help you to get back to your normal work routine.
Take time if you need it. In most cases, people can recover relatively quickly from witnessing traumatic incidents. It does take time though, and you should not feel guilty or ashamed if you need to take some time out of your normal work duties to help you to recover. You are having a wholly human reaction to something traumatic and should do whatever you need to do to recover.
Please remember that trauma can affect anyone, even if they have had years of experience or training. You should not be expected to manage it by yourself.