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HR's role when employee says 'life isn't worth living'

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in The HR Specialist Forum

Question: An employee recently told a co-worker that he thought his “life isn’t worth living.” How should we in HR handle this? Other than asking the employee if he needs a “sounding board,” what else should we be doing?—K.S., Las Vegas


I agree that, if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then you should direct the person to it. However, it has to be something that the person him/herself must do. You can't speak on his/her behalf.
We had a situation years ago where an employee had a situation that could have been dealt with by our own EAP, but the employee refused to admit there was a problem and there was nothing the EAP could do about it.
I also don't think the HR department should get involved unless asked to do so personally by the person with the problem.

I disagree with the previous comment. HR has a lot to do. HR already has knowledge of a potential for FMLA, even ADA, case. This should be documented, and the employee should be addressed directly regarding this situation. As a potential FMLA or ADA the employer needs to act.

This is a touchy situation, however as coworkers, and human beings it is your place to help the person. Working in the medical field for 25 years, and personal experience- when someone says that they are really crying out for help. It is your responsiblity as people to get the person the help they need. Maybe contact a family member or close friend. When someone says that & follows through on it- is that something you are willing to live with? I say go to the person & get them help. They may hate you at first, but later they will thank you so much for the interference.

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