An Employer’s Obligations With Regard to Suicide

September 10, 2012 marked the World Suicide Prevention Day, which aims to promote worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. Ahead of this day, an interesting article was published in France entitled “La prévention du suicide est aussi l’affaire de l’entreprise”.

According to the article and the expert interviewed, employers have a responsibility with regard to suicide prevention, especially given that the workplace can often have a direct influence on one’s private life. Moreover, a poor organization of work, contradictory directives and a lack of social dialogue can lead to suicidal acts. The article cites one example of a forced reorganization that is thought to have provoked around thirty suicides in 2008 and 2009 among the 100,000 employees, with an investigation into allegations of psychological harassment by the CEO. 

A report from the Conseil économique, social et environnemental indicates that 400 suicides a year in France are directly linked to work. As such, the article speaks of ways to address how to spot employees who are not doing well or at risk, notably by having trainings and creating a culture of awareness of others.

This raises an interesting question for the workplace: what kind of role, if any, should the employer be taking in suicide prevention?

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