How to Introduce Suicide First Aid Training into Your Workplace

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Suicide is a complex issue that affects many people in different ways. When it comes to the workplace, you wouldn’t necessarily consider offering Suicide First Aid Training to staff. Actually, though, this can be a very important aspect of your wellbeing programme.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales in 2019, an increase of 11% from the previous year. Alarmingly, suicide is also the leading cause of death for men aged 20-49 and women aged 20-34 in the UK.

As an HR or wellbeing leader, you may be wondering how you can support your employees who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviours. One way to do this is to introduce suicide first aid training into your workplace.

In this blog, we will explain what suicide first aid training is, why it is beneficial for your organisation, and how you can implement it effectively. We will also provide some useful resources and tips to help you along the way.

What is Suicide First Aid Training?

Suicide First Aid Training is a form of education that teaches people how to recognise and respond to someone who may be at risk of suicide. It covers topics such as:

  • The signs and risk factors of suicide.
  • How to ask someone about their suicidal thoughts and feelings.
  • How to listen and empathise with someone who is suicidal.
  • How to assess the level of risk and urgency of the situation.
  • How to intervene and keep someone safe from harm.
  • How to follow up and provide ongoing support.

Suicide first aid training can help you and your staff to:

  • Increase your awareness and understanding of suicide.
  • Reduce the stigma and fear around talking about suicide.
  • Build your confidence and skills in helping someone who is suicidal.
  • Save lives and prevent further harm.

Why is Suicide First Aid Training beneficial for your organisation?

Suicide first aid training can have a positive impact on your organisation in several ways. Some of the benefits include:

  • It can improve your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. By learning how to cope with suicidal thoughts and feelings, your staff can reduce their stress, anxiety, and depression levels. Additionally, staff may also feel more supported and valued by their colleagues and managers.
  • It can enhance your organisational culture and reputation. By showing that you care about your employees’ mental health and wellbeing, you can foster a culture of care and compassion in your workplace. Subsequently, this allows you to demonstrate your social responsibility and commitment to suicide prevention, which can boost your brand image and attract more customers, partners, and talent.
  • It can reduce your organisational costs and risks. By preventing suicides and reducing suicidal behaviours, you can save lives. This helps avoid the human, emotional, and financial costs associated with them. Additionally, this can help reduce absenteeism, turnover, productivity loss, legal liability, and insurance claims related to suicide.

How to choose a suitable type of training for your organisation?

There are different types of suicide first aid training available, depending on your needs and preferences. Some examples are:

  • SFA: Suicide First Aid through Understanding Suicide Interventions – the UK’s only level 4 externally accredited suicide prevention programme. It is a one-day course that covers the theory and practice of Suicide First Aid, using a unique model of intervention.
  • ASIST: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training – a two-day interactive workshop that teaches participants how to apply a suicide intervention model in various situations.
  • MHFA: Mental Health First Aid – a two-day course that teaches participants how to recognise and support someone with a range of mental health issues, including suicide.
  • safeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone – a half-day training that teaches participants how to identify and engage with someone who may be thinking about suicide, and how to connect them with further help.

To choose a suitable type of training for your organisation, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • The size and diversity of your staff. Consider the numbers, roles, levels, backgrounds, and experiences of your staff.
  • The time and budget available.
  • The learning objectives and outcomes.
  • The quality and credibility of the training. You may want to choose a type of training that is evidence-based, externally accredited, quality assured, and delivered by experienced and qualified trainers, such as New Leaf Health.

How to plan and promote suicide first aid training in your organisation?

Once you have chosen a suitable type of training for your organisation, you need to plan and promote it effectively. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Decide when, where, how, and by whom the training will be delivered. You may want to consult with the training provider and your staff to find the best time, location, format, and facilitator for the training. Similarly, you may also want to consider whether the training will be mandatory or voluntary and whether it will be offered to all staff or to specific groups or roles. Here at New Leaf, we can advise on all of these points for you.
  • Communicate the benefits and expectations of the training to your staff. You may want to use different channels and methods to inform your staff about the training, such as emails, newsletters, posters, flyers, intranet, social media, etc. You may also want to highlight the benefits and objectives of the training, as well as the practical details and requirements. All of our training packages here at New Leaf Health come with promotional materials included, saving you the trouble.
  • Provide support and resources before, during, and after the training. You may want to prepare your staff for the training by providing them with some pre-training materials or activities, such as reading articles, watching videos, taking quizzes, etc. Similarly, you should support your staff during the training by providing them with a safe and comfortable learning environment, as well as snacks, drinks, breaks, etc. After the training, you can ask staff for feedback, and make sure they’re comfortable using their new skills moving forward.

How to evaluate and follow up on training?

To measure the effectiveness and impact of suicide first aid training in your organisation, you need to evaluate and follow up on the training regularly. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Collect feedback from the participants and the trainers. You should use different tools and methods to gather feedback from the participants and the trainers, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, etc. You may also want to ask them about their satisfaction, learning outcomes, behaviour changes, challenges, suggestions, etc.
  • Identify and implement improvements and recommendations. You can use the results of the feedback to identify and implement improvements and recommendations for future training or interventions. As a result, you may also want to share your findings and best practices with other stakeholders or organisations.

Suicide First Aid Training can be a valuable addition to your workplace wellbeing strategy. It can help you create a culture of care and compassion in your workplace. Subsequently, people will feel comfortable talking about suicide and reaching out for help when they need it.

Further Information

If you are looking for more information or advice on suicide prevention in your workplace or in general you can visit these websites:

  • Samaritans – a charity that provides emotional support for anyone in distress or at risk of suicide. You can call them for free on 116 123 or email them at
  • Papyrus – a charity that supports young people who are feeling suicidal or worried about someone else. You can call their HopelineUK on 0800 068 4141 or text them at 07860 039967.
  • CALM – a charity that supports men who are feeling suicidal or struggling with their mental health. You can call their helpline on 0800 58 58 58 or chat with them online.

Remember: you are not alone. There is always hope and help available. Together we can make a difference and save lives.

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