Work-related suicides are uncounted
A new report by Professor Sarah Waters (LCS) and Hilda Palmer (Hazards) calls for work-related suicides to be monitored, regulated and prevented.
The report, stemming from a Research England-funded study into a selection of suicide cases, found that employee suicides are still largely treated as an individual mental health problem that has no direct relevance for work or the workplace.
Suicide rates are rising in the UK and the highest rates are amongst working age men aged 40-54. Suicide charities, professional associations and trade unions point to a mental health crisis in the workplace. Yet, there is no data collected on suicides that occur in the workplace or that are identified as work-related. While an employer is legally obliged to report the fracture of an arm or leg at work for investigation, a suicide that takes place in the workplace or is related to work, does not need to be reported to any public agency. In the aftermath of a suicide, employers are not obliged to assess workplace risks or make any changes to policies or practices. No official investigation takes place in the workplace following an employee suicide or suicide(s).
A key recommendation of the report is to include suicide in the list of work-related deaths that must be reported to the Health & Safety Executive for investigation. The report also calls for explicit and enforceable legal requirements that oblige employers to take responsibility for suicide prevention. There is an urgent need to modernise health and safety regulations in order to prevent avoidable deaths and bring the UK in line with other industrialised countries where suicides are systematically monitored and treated as a serious public health concern.