· News

Suicide prevention charter for employers presented to parliament

Suicide prevention initiative Baton of Hope presented its workplace charter to parliament which advises employers on suicide support.

Supported by Watford MP Dean Russell, the charter outlines six principles employers should introduce for suicide prevention and support.

They include:

  1. Making suicide awareness, support and prevention a priority;
  2. The use of clear and consistent messaging about suicide in communications and training;
  3. Implementing prevention and support services;
  4. Embracing those with lived experience of mental ill-health or suicide;
  5. Signposting to advice, counselling, training and support, and;
  6. Promotion of the charter to help raise awareness among other organisations.

There are 17 deaths a day in the UK from suicide and, in 2021/22 there were an estimated 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Mike McCarthy, founder of Baton of Hope, said the figures highlight the profound impact employers can have in helping change society for the better.

Speaking to HR magazine, McCarthy said: “Suicides are preventable and everyone can play a part in supporting a move towards a zero suicide society. 

“By everyone, I mean friends, families, loved ones, employers and, of course, HR departments, who have a critical role to play in preventing the societal catastrophe that suicide represents.

“It starts with creating an open culture where staff are not afraid to discuss their mental health. If employees are afraid to do so, it’s impossible to provide the necessary support.”

When presented in parliament this week, MPs were invited to attend an awareness event on behalf of the charity which received the support of prime minister Rishi Sunak.

In addition to Russell’s parliamentary advocacy, over 120 MPs have pledged support for the charity and it has already been sponsored by organisations including Natwest, Starbucks and Westfield Health. 

The charity and its charter has also received the support of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

A provider of mental health first aid training, the organisation also partners with The National Centre for Suicide Prevention Education and Training to provide suicide first aid training to organisations.

MHFA England CEO Simon Blake told HR magazine: "MHFA England fully supports Mike McCarthy's vision of a zero suicide society.

“We share Baton of Hope’s belief that through education and intervention, and a strong focus on the underlying inequalities that impact suicide, suicide is one of the most preventable deaths.

"Baton of Hope is right to focus on the workplace. Adults spend at least a third of their time at work.

“Employers and leaders have a duty of care to support employee mental health and wellbeing.

“This must include suicide prevention and that is why we are proud to support the workplace charter.” 

In 2021, Russell also introduced a bill to parliament to make mental health first aid a compulsory part of every UK workplace's first-aid training.

The second reading of this bill is set for 24 November this year.

Organisations will be invited to formally sign-up to the Baton of Hope’s workplace charter in the Autumn.


When life is difficult, Samaritans are there – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.