Home|Audio Conferences|Responding to Employees in Distress

Responding to Employees in Distress: Suicide, self-harm, and PTSD

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Colin Johnston



Omo Akintan

Employer Counsel
City of Toronto
Mike Condra

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology,
Queen's University
Lindsay Waddell

Union Counsel
Moore Edgar Lyster


Given that adults spend most of their lives at work, managers, union representatives and co-workers are in a particularly good position to observe changes in behaviour or hear comments that indicate that a worker may be in distress or may be suicidal. The workplace itself may also be the source of trauma leading to significant mental distress. In this session, clinical psychologist Dr. Mike Condra will explain why suicide, self-harm, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are workplace issues, and provide practical advice on how workplace parties can assist workers in crisis and develop responses to workplace trauma and crises that protect the mental health of all workers. He will be joined by experienced labour lawyers who will explain the important legal issues raised by workers and workplaces in crises.

  • Suicide: What do we know about suicide and the role the workplace can have in reducing suicide? What link, if any, is there between suicide and unhealthy stress/overwork, insensitive management, and bullying/harassment? Do employers have a legal obligation to ensure that workplace conditions do not mentally harm employees in ways that may contribute to suicidal ideation or actions? What are the signs that someone may be suicidal? Do managers, union representatives, or co-workers have a duty to inquire into the health of someone displaying these signs? Should an employer require an employee to provide medical documentation that he or she is fit to work if it becomes aware that the employee has expressed suicidal ideation? What can managers, union representatives, and co-workers do to assist someone whom they believe may be suicidal? What privacy and health and safety issues arise if an employee talks about suicide? Should an employee's talk of suicide be treated as a "threat"?
  • Self-harm: What form does self-harming behaviour typically take? How common is it? Why do people engage in such behaviour? What is the relationship between self-harming behaviour and suicide? Is it common for people to self-injure at work? What are the legal obligations of employers, union representatives, and co-workers who believe someone may be self-harming? Is it legitimate for other employees to be concerned for their own safety if a co-worker engages in self-harming behaviour, or are such concerns discriminatory? How should managers, union representatives, and co-workers speak with someone whom they believe may be self-harming?
  • Crisis, trauma, and PTSD: What is the link between crises or traumatic experiences at work, suicide, PTSD and other mental health conditions? What should employers and unions do to protect the health of workers who experience crises or traumatic events at work? What are the legal consequences of failure to take such action? Given that an employee's attempted suicide can itself be traumatic for co-workers, how can workplace parties accommodate a formerly suicidal employee and return him or her to work while protecting the mental health of co-workers and respecting privacy obligations?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $245. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $145.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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