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IASP Special Interest Group - Suicide and the Workplace

Sally Spencer-Thomas

Dear IASP Members,

Most people who die by suicide around the globe are of working age, but very few suicide prevention programs target the workplace as a venue for suicide prevention. The workplace provides opportunities for suicide prevention that have not been realized. For instance, workplaces offer people in potential distress social connection and a purpose that may help sustain them during difficult times. In many instances workplaces are also already situated to disseminate public health messages, and in some cases even refer people to mental health services such as Employee Assistance Services. Depending on the number of hours worked, co-workers often spend more time with the person involved and may be able to recognize changes in mood and behavior because of this contact.

Finally, suicide affects the social and financial functioning of the workplace. Whether it is ideation, attempts or completion, morale and productivity are impacted significantly. Thus, while often challenging to engage, the workplace offers a unique contribution to a public health approach to suicide, and increased efforts to develop policy, protocols, and programs for this critical sector of society are needed.

For these reasons, IASP has recently developed a Suicide and the Workplace Special Interest Group with the following goals:

If you would like to be a part of this Special Interest Group, please contact Sally Spencer-Thomas for more information, e-mail: Sally@CarsonJSpencer.org

Thank you,

Sally Spencer-Thomas, Executive Director, Carson J Spencer Foundation USA


Recent and Upcoming Activities

In 2016, the Workplace Suicide Prevention SIG expanded its efforts in both research and intervention settings. In terms of research, there have now been several studies funded in the Australian context of job stress and suicide, as well as funded RCTs aimed at addressing the effects of unemployment on suicide risk. The studies on job stress and suicide has now expanded from Australia to France, where researchers from the University of Melbourne, Deakin, and Monash are working with colleagues at INSERM and Sorbonne Universit├ęs, UPMC University Paris, Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Social Epidemiology, Paris, France. This study was funded by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In terms of intervention studies, MATES in construction continue their efforts to reduce the suicide among construction workers in Australia. More than 110,000 workers have been inducted into the program across more than 1000 sites to date. Evaluation results suggest that the program is associated with a reduction in suicide rates in construction, and is also well liked and accepted by workers in the industry.

In the USA and Canada, workplace suicide prevention has expanded to a greater range of settings, and has now been adopted in construction, law enforcement, and rail and transport industries. There has been widespread public health campaigns aimed at increasing awareness and reducing stigma in working age men.


Please browse Resources to find a selection of suicide prevention guides and training programs relating to workers and the workplace.


The IASP Workplace Special Interest Group is pleased to announce a new resource available to the suicide prevention community. The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) announce the launch of a collaborative publication, in partnership with Crisis Care Network (CCN), and the Carson J Spencer Foundation entitled, A Manager's Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace: 10 Action Steps for Dealing with the Aftermath of Suicide. The guide provides clear steps for postvention, giving leadership a sense of how to immediately respond to the traumatic event, have a plan in the short-term for recovery, and consider long-term strategies for helping employees cope down the line. The collaborators worked to create a set of guidelines that are useful across varied types of workplaces, and they expect a range of individuals within these organizations and companies to find the information immediately helpful.

Download the Manager's Guidebook press release.

We are excited to see many of you in Oslo this September and hope that you will attend our session on Workplace Postvention where we will be sharing the following sessions:

 

A Manager's Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace
Lanny Berman, American Association of Suicidology & Sally Spencer-Thomas, Carson J Spencer Foundation (USA)

First Responders as Survivors of Suicide Loss
Sally Spencer-Thomas, Carson J Spencer Foundation (USA)

Prevention of the negative impact on railway crew after involvement in a rail fatality
Cécile Bardon & Brian Mishara (Canada)

Impact of Patient Deaths by Suicide on Thai Psychiatrists Through One-to-one Interviews
Prakarn Thomyangkoon & Antoon A. Leenaars (Thailand)

SUICIDE BY OCCUPATION: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS
Milner, Allison1, LaMontagne, Anthony D1, Spittal, Matthew2, Pirkis, Jane2 (Australia)

Guidelines for Postvention in the Workplace and Communities
Larry Berkowitz, James McCauley, Rebecca Mirick (USA)