What everyone with any knowledge of workplace health & safety issues has suspected, the link between work and suicide is under reported and consequently underestimated.
In 2017 the government released figures that showed that there was a strong link between suicide and occupation. Low skilled male labourers are three times more likely to take their own lives than the national average. Other groups with an increased risk are nursing staff, primary teachers and agricultural workers.
Many of these workers are also those who are more likely to experience workplace stress, however, according to a report by the Samaritans, job insecurity, zero-hour contracts and workplace downsizing are also important risk factors.
This was borne out by research published by Hazards Magazine which reported that there was an increase in suicides at times of restructuring and job losses.
The need for sensitivity, support and understanding of their individual employees when an employer is restructuring their organisation and business is paramount for the reduction of risk of extreme pressure felt by an employee which could lead to anxiety depression and stress; all pre-cursors to possible suicidal thoughts and actions.
Appallingly, all too often putting individuals under extreme pressure is a tactic used to coerce individuals to leave the organisation and is often seen as easier than having to arrange severance packages, redundancy, or even change of terms and conditions for the individuals affected by a change of structure in the organisation.
Union Safety Reps have come across such situations and indeed case studies by those gathering data on workplace connected suicide show the lack of concern for the ehalth of individuals put under pressure this way. Further, too many times Union Safety Reps have had to deal with the consequences of a Union member’s suicide and are often the first port of call by Union members feeling stress and anxiety at work, whether it be due to work alone or a number of factors including home situations.
The TUC this January produced a document aimed at guidance to USRs and Union officials on prevention of suicide and mental health issues generally.
You can download a copy from this website’s E-Library Database here