I read the first parts of this article with interest because I believe we have a duty to the people who work for us and with us. We should care about them and look out for signs of depression. The mental health of each of us is something we should all care about. Then I got to this section of the article, and it got my attention for a whole different reason. This is the kind of stuff we talk about even less, how to support someone who has experienced a loss from suicide.
This is the elephant in the room when it happens that no one wants to mention and no one feels comfortable talking about. This doesn’t help the person dealing with that grief.
“This kind of loss requires a unique level of support from managers, employees, and friends. Here are four ways to do this.
Allow as much time off as they need
Reach out to check-in
Practice compassion, but respect their space
Set annual calendar reminders”
I can honestly say that two of those 4 things I have only rarely, if ever, seen mentioned when it comes to this kind of loss, or any loss really. Workplace experts and HR people are not writing about giving employees the time they need to truly grieve. I’ve been through losses in my family, my parents, and my in-laws. Getting back to work in a few days as if nothing has happened is a ridiculous expectation. Dealing with arrangements, wills, property, etc. takes weeks and months of work and is a constant reminder of the loss, and that’s when the passing is somewhat expected. Suicide is not expected at all, and is a whole different kind of loss. Give people time to deal with that.
I’ve also not really thought about the importance of dates. Birthdays and holidays can be difficult. As the article points out the anniversary of their death and days like World Suicide Prevention Day can also be difficult. You just don’t know how something like that can hit and it’s a really good opportunity to reach out and check in.
So please, read the whole thing and be prepared for the possibility that someone you work with may be at risk for suicide or surviving after a loved one’s death by suicide. The more you know the more you can support them.