RETURNING TO WORK FOLLOWING A SUICIDE ATTEMPT: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY
Abstract: Recovering from a suicide attempt can be hard and overwhelming, with the risk of reattempt markedly high during the first months after discharge. Repetition has also been found to be a strong predictor for completed suicide. Within the first 12 months after an episode of deliberate self-harm, the risk of suicide increases 20 to 100 times in comparison to the general population's risk. Returning back to work can be a critical step in the recovery process following a suicide attempt. Work not only provides the financial resources needed for material well-being but also fosters opportunities to develop and use skills, establishes points of social contact and support, and solidifies our sense of identity and personal achievement. However, little is known about the conditions supporting successful work reintegration following a suicide attempt. Return to work can be difficult, particularly when the suicide attempt took place onsite at the workplace or if colleagues were involved in the suicidal crisis. Employees may be concerned about returning to work, fearing what their colleagues will think of them and how they will react. Managers and colleagues may avoid contact with the person, not knowing what to say and fearing to cause more damages. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of the factors involved in the reintegration process among a group of employees absent from work following a suicide attempt. A total of 24 people aged between 22 and 60 years old and working in different organisations were interviewed. Participants were recruited after they were treated for a suicide attempt in general hospital emergency rooms in Montreal and through Suicide Prevention Centers in the Greater Montreal area. A qualitative approach was used, grounded theory, to analyse the return-to-work process. Semi-structured interviews averaging 90 minutes in length were recorded then transcribed word by word. Analysis of the data enabled the reconstruction of an individual's experience at various stages of the work reintegration process, their interpretation of these events, and their responses to the difficulties they met. This presentation will explore the different trajectories of workers returning back to work following a suicide attempt. Finally, a model will be proposed to help in understand the reintegration process and recommendations for practice will be discussed.