Crisis Management In The Event Of A Suicide: A Postvention Toolkit For Employers - Business in the Community

Crisis Management In The Event Of A Suicide: A Postvention Toolkit For Employers

Suicide prevention should be an integral part of a positive and proactive approach to mental health at work. But no mental health policy can ever eliminate the risk of suicide. So it is of paramount importance to incorporate a suicide postvention protocol into a company’s crisis management strategy. This Suicide Postvention Toolkit is designed to support employers in their response to the suicide of an employee, at work or outside the workplace. It was produced in partnership with Public Health England and supported by Samaritans.

Actions to take in the immediate aftermath of a suspected suicide:

  • Convene postvention committee. Ensure that roles are understood and covered
  • Log details of fatality. Update as more information becomes available
  • Notify board and senior management
  • Make contact with family
  • Co-ordinate arrangements with emergency services (when death has taken place on site)
  • Issue statement to colleagues
  • Contact Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provider (when available)
  • Make arrangements for counselling provision, including appropriate accommodation
  • Ensure support resources are available
  • Identify team members and colleagues who were closest to the deceased
  • Activate death in service arrangements
  • Approve time off for colleagues
  • Notify clients/supply chain where appropriate
  • Ensure line managers have appropriate support, both operationally and emotionally

In 2018, there were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK, three quarters of these were men1. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK2.

Death by suicide can have a profound effect on a business and its employees. Organisations need to be able to respond by providing support to their employees to help them come to terms with their loss while ensuring that the impact on your organisation and its day-to-day activities is contained. The role of the employer, and of the line manager, is absolutely critical. In the event of a death by suicide, an appropriate response helps employees to come to terms with the loss of a colleague and friend while making it possible for an organisation to learn from one of the most difficult employee situations it will face. This toolkit is designed to help organisations adopt a strategy to reduce the risk of a suicide that will have an impact on the workplace.

In this context, the term ‘workplace suicide’ is understood to be a suicide in or outside the workplace, which may involve an employee or contractor, or a family member or close friend of an employee or contractor. It may also concern a significant customer or supplier, or a person who is important to the organisation, such as a union representative. This toolkit provides advice when there is strong evidence that suicide is the cause of death, and when the community, colleagues, relatives and friends, are responding to what they believe is a suicide and so experiencing the corresponding impact and emotions.

View and download the seven other toolkits in this series, developed in partnership with Public Health England.

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1. Office for National Statistics; (2019); Suicides in the UK: 2018 registrations; available at

2. Campaign Against Living Miserably; (no date); available at

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