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Businesses come together to get people talking about suicide


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West Midlands Combined Authority has held a webinar to help local businesses handle the sensitive issue of suicide.

More than 600 representatives from West Midlands businesses registered for the event, despite organisers expecting around 60 to register. The event covered topics including how to spot if someone is at risk of attempting suicide, how to prevent situations escalating, and whether UK-GDPR prevents an employer from assisting at a time of crisis.

Held on 4 March, it was the latest free event for local bosses run by the Thrive at Work Programme, promoting employee health and well-being.

Elaine Woodward, a suicide prevention programme manager who works with the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health, said, “We all need to, and can, play a role in reducing suicide by providing hope to those considering suicide as they don’t want to die – they want to end their pain and the burden they feel they are imposing on their loved ones.

“I would urge businesses to consider developing mental health policies, reviewing their workplace using HSE stress templates and promoting healthy workplaces where staff can feel comfortable talking about their mental health.”

Government figures show that in 2019, there were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales – more than one in every 10,000 people. It’s estimated that every 90 minutes, someone in the UK ends their own life, and many of these people are not known to the health services and have kept their struggles hidden from friends and family.

The 90-minute webinar provided bosses and senior leaders the chance to speak to a panel of experts in the field of mental health. The event was hosted by Thrive at Work accreditation coordinator Andrew Rudge. On the panel was Evan Grant, who co-founded the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust after losing his son Cameron to suicide when he was 21, and in his third year of studying geology at university.

After the webinar, he said: “I was especially pleased that we discussed how to spot signs that a colleague may be at risk of suicide, and some of the ways everyone can help.

“We can all ask: ‘how are you today? Are you really OK?'”

For further details about the Thrive at Work Programme, visit https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/thrive/thrive-at-work/


Written by: David Watkins

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