Supporting Staff Exposed to Suicide in the Workplace

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Mrs Cheryl Staal, Lead Consutlant at Enhance Supervision and Training joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Supporting Staff Exposed to Suicide in the Workplace’.


Many of the 2088 Australians who died by suicide in 2016 were employees of some type. Based on Cerel et al’s research over a ¼ Million Australians could have been affected by these deaths. However, if the deceased had a significant role within a business, lengthy collegial relationships, or strong relationships with clients, the number exposed to, or affected by the death could be exponentially larger.

Any workplace can be impacted by suicide through staff being a witness, discovering a body, losing a client, another staff member or someone they cared about. Knowing trauma reactions and grief can impact on personal functioning and productivity, the impact of suicide and duty of care to prevent / mitigate psychological injury in any work place is a significant issue for its management. Further, if an employee witnessed the suicide or discovered the body the complexity of trauma for the staff member or members is immense. There is little awareness of how many workplaces are impacted, so they generally are underprepared. Through practice this presenter is aware of the diverse range of businesses / staff roles most likely to be impacted including hospitality, cleaning, medical, transport, legal and emergency services. Also impacts personally, on teams and business clients; and important aspects to manage according to best practice.

Responding to suicide is a unique set of circumstances, not generally included in management courses or organisational policies. Therefore, this presentation will heighten awareness about the possibility of such an event occurring and outline matters to consider for individual employees, customers and the business. It will suggest effective strategies and sources to build the business’s critical incident and response capacity. As well as how best to support staff sensitively, assist them to return to work, and manage possible repercussions across the business requires careful consideration and management.


Cheryl Staal has extensive experience in prevention, intervention and postvention supporting clients affected by suicide as a witness, discovering a body or losing some they cared about. She also has evidenced based best practice expertise in the suicide field. Having been bereaved by suicide herself enables her to bring personal experience, theories and skills to guide best practice with practitioners, businesses and others. Cheryl is also high skilled in providing professional supervision and professional development training for practitioners and workplaces. Along with advising organisations and government on designing and implementing integrated services suicide, domestic violence and elder abuse fields.

For further information on the upcoming 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit


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