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Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

Open Letter to Employers


Dear Employer,

If you are visiting this page, it is likely you have experienced one or more employee suicides. Perhaps an employee died by suicide at your worksite or, more likely, died by suicide at home or away from your place of work. An employee suicide is always an “unexpected event” that leads to a “brutal audit” of what may have gone wrong. What could have been done that wasn’t, or what someone should have done but didn’t.

A lawsuit may even be around the corner.

The question is, will this employee’s death affect the way your organization does business?


The American suicide rate has increased 33% in the past two decades, mostly among working adults. The Bureau of Labor of Statistics on occupational fatalities show the number of workplace suicides is on the rise as well.

If an employee dies by suicide at your workplace, some may assume there is something systemically amiss within the organization, even though there may not be.

What is new under the sun, and to answer the “why now?” question, is that employers are increasingly concerned with the mental health of their workforce and in preventing deaths by suicide among their employees.

What’s new now?

In 2001 the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was published, and in 2002 the Institute of Medicine issued a report entitled, Reducing Suicide: a National Imperative. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was updated in 2012, but it is only in the past few months that key publications about workplace suicide prevention have made it into the public domain so that employers everywhere could begin to embrace, support, endorse and even mandate suicide risk mitigation strategies in their workplaces.

An invitation to change

We invite employers to explore employee safety from a different perspective, a perspective known to be effective in error prevention and the successful avoidance of loss of life.

The QPR Institute uses a systems approach to suicide risk reduction and is modeled on the research and recommendations of Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, and their studies of “high reliability organizations” or HROs.

These authors’ studies of nuclear power plants, air traffic controllers, aircraft carriers, hospitals, and other high-risk work environments provide essential lessons and tools to help organizations address and improve employee safety practices, policies, and protocols.

While employee suicide is a severe, irreversible, extremely harmful outcome, it is also avoidable.

If your company is interested in exploring how to move from the aftermath of a recent employee suicide to consideration of adopting a suicide risk reduction strategies and training, we encourage you to review the articles and visit the websites below.

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Self-audit Tool

Assist leadership to become “mindful” of suicide prevention, its risk exposures, scope of the problem, and the burden of suffering.

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About QPR

QPR trainees have completed 67,759 pre-training and post-training surveys.
Here are some results:

Level of competence persuading someone to get help.

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Post-training Survey

Level of confidence in finding help.

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Level of understanding about suicide and suicide prevention

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