My Review of the Suicide Prevention Toolkit published this month
This toolkit is for senior leadership, line managers, HR and occupational health and safety professionals. The introduction talks about the role that employers have to play in suicide prevention is to be expected from Public Health England, I totally agree that we get employers on board with this tricky and emotive subject. My main problem is that it’s pretty long at 60 pages, but do not despair, there are thirteen pages of case studies and four introduction pages from prestigious organisations including Unilever, Samaritans. City Mental Health, Mind, and Public Health England. Also throughout the toolkit are many quotes which although adding gravitas to the document is not an actual tool, which means you can safely ignore about 20 or so pages.
The last part of the document has case studies from various large employers with a resource list and action plans that businesses can follow.
Facts About Suicide
The are many facts in the document and here are those I found most striking:
- A person dies in the UK by suicide every 107 minutes
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, and more women are taking their lives each year
- One in five adults experiences suicidal feelings at some point in their lives.
There is also a section on common myths about suicide and the interesting one for me is that if you talked about suicide, it may give someone the idea to try it. Then there is the counter argument and testimony from people who have felt suicidal, saying what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing. There is also a PDF link to a resource called ‘It’s safe to Talk About Suicide.’
One worrying thing for me is that the toolkit deals mainly with large employers that have resources to be able to take on an employee assistance programmes, HR and occupational health services. There is little for the small employers (which make up over 80% of the workforce) apart from a referral to the GP.
Also Included Links:
- The stress management standards from the HSE which have been available for at least five years
- Preventing and taking action against bullying and harassment is in there, nothing new here either.
- Mental Health Toolkit is an excellent resource and much more toolkitty in its format and sectioning.
What is useful, is the advice about doing a suicide risk assessment. You do this by reducing, removing or eliminating the means for people to take their own lives. It specifically mentions high places on construction sites and restricting access to rooftops, both great tips.
Bizarrely there is a focus on farming which doesn’t sit right within the document. I realise the farmers have a high level of suicide but not sure that this page is in the right place or should be part of the main document. Why not nurses or teachers say?
- List of resources and signposting
- The suicide-prevention risk assessment information
- The post suicide action plans for companies where people have committed suicide or ‘postvention’ strategies
- The bringing together of already available information in one document
What could be improved
- More help and advice for small companies
- Something aimed at line managers and businesses to actually reduce stress, workload, within this document
- Remove much of the endorsements and introductions because there are far too many for a toolkit
- Remove the 13 pages of case studies and put them as an appendix or added resource; doing that will make it more factual and easier to read
- The Managers Guidebook about suicide hyperlink from NSPA doesn’t work.
The suicide prevention toolkit is a good start as a workplace strategy document, but it needs editing to make it user-friendly and easier to read. Busy managers do not have time to read the padding and endorsements, and if we are trying to prevent suicide, our workers need all the help we can give them.