How to handle a suicide at the work place?

I work at a apartment community(Hi-Rise) and recently a resident was being evicted as he fell behind on his rent due to his job loss.  All the proper paperwork was done through the court.  The day the bailiff showed up he jumped out his window  as you can imagine died when he hit the pavement.  One of our employees didn't see the jump but was on street level opening the dock area and saw the gory aftermath of the mans body.   All the employee's are pretty torn up as this was a long time resident and too make matters worse the Manager nor anyone from the came down to talk to us or to even ask if were okay,  Not even to my co-worker who saw the dead body on the street.  We had a meeting last week about our privacy policy and not to talk to residents about the matter etc...  and also that employees can not tell residents when they are getting evicted as that is cause to be fired and as the Loss Prevention guy was saying this and incinuating to everyone that the gentleman that jumped must have been tipped off to the bailiff coming.   I spoke up and said the resident knew he was being evicted as his eviction notice would state that and if he wasn't out by a certain day he knew we would physically be moving out his stuff .

  He became very angry and said no because there was activity the night before him moving out furniture etc..  Then he proceeded to make this statement "  It should really way heavy on the person for telling the resident the day the bailiff was coming,  this should give you something to think about."    Can he imply that to the staff?   I almost lost it when he said this,  I couldn't believe my ears.  Someone may have given the resident a heads up I don't know for sure and neither does he.   This is very troubling for me as it seems to me someone from HR should be addressing us.   Any feed back would be helpful.




  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I am sorry you and your co-workers had to witness such a traumatic event and your employer hasn't been supportive--and even has been accusatory. Does your employer have an employee assistance provider? You should ask your HR person.
  • williger

    I to am sorry that any of your people had to see such a tragedy. No amount of words will erase that picture. I have seen more suicides than I care to remember. I have intervened in as many more. For management to say such callous things is unconscionable and reflects a person that has no idea of how to handle such situations and fears repercussions for this suicide. It also reflects, according to your statement, a lack of  knowledge of his own eviction procedures if he thinks that the person would only know when they will be removed when they see the moving van pull up.

    What do you do for this company? Are you in a position to contact the H/R division? They may not know of the situation that has developed between the employees and management. They may not be aware of the need for employee mental health intervention. H/R may have an Employee Assistance Program in place but it must be asked for first. His anger could be his own pain being manifested out of a hopelessness he may be feeling.

    With that said please allow me to say that suicides are not anyone's fault. Yes times are hard. Yes we may become involve in the line of 'reasoning' that the person [i]decides[/i] to end what they are suffering from. But we can't know what is deep in a persons irrational thinking. Please do not internalize this. Yes, see if there is some method that may soften the blow of the eviction notice. If you have treated the client respectfully and compassionately you have done all you can do.

     I had a person tell me 'goodbye'. I did not hear the goodbye in the way the person presented it. In fact this has happened twice. Both went home satisfied with what they were going to do and killed themselves. With my experience in dealing with such situations and the people that could be thinking about killing themselves I suffered for years trying to figure out why I did not see this coming. I finally figured it out. It is this simple, you can't see it coming quite often. Self blame or management blame does not alter that fact.  

    Please accept my best wishes during such a difficult time for you and your fellow workers.

  • Employee assistant program would be a good idea.  As others have said, contact your HR people.

    Most ways of being a jerk are not illegal and I imagine this falls into that realm as well.  However, if you have a code of conduct, I bet your loss prevention guy made a mistake there.  Talk to your HR people.

  • Well the company fired the guy yesterday and was stating it was due to his workorders showing done in the computer but he didn't make notations on the actual paper and for the locks on the windows.   Our immediate mgt. try coaching him so he wouldnt lose his job which I was glad to hear but corp. was having non of it I'm sure they are doing this to avoid a law suit if it happens from the family of the man who jumped..  I like how they pick to now to fire the man for work orders and the window locks can be taken off with a allen wrench and why wasn't he wrote up for this before... This was just really handled wrong and very disappointed with my company.  Thank you to every one for your responses.
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