What do you do when a direct report commits suicide? It's been about three hours since I found out about R. Eight since initiating a health and wellness check.

Definitely still processing this, and uncertain what to do. Thus far, I've only spoke to both the VP of HR and the head of staff where R works in another state. The head of this office knew R for 30+ years. We meet early in the morning, then likely will let the team know later in the day.  I don't know what else to say right now. Just asking what other Manager Tools members would do or if there is guidance out there because you had a similar experience.

bdhaas's picture

My thought would be that you need to help the team keep moving. Some people will need a minute and others will want to get back to work.  You'll have to manage that individually.


Check with HR to verify what resources are avilable for grief counseling.  Reach out to the spouse or next of kin (it is probably too early for there to a plan regarding funeral/wake/celebration of life and you can disseminate details later).


Have a team meeting.  Start reassigning responsibilities.  Start working your succession plan.


I'm sorry for your loss



pucciot's picture

A few years ago our Director was found dead of a stroke one morning.

I had already been designated as No.2 -- 
It was my day off -  but I rushed into the office.

Got everybody together in one place -- Gave everyone the news that we knew that we could share.

Let everyone know that it was OK to grieve and take time off for the day if they need to.

Told them to stay-tuned for more information about Grief Counseling - and work reassignments.

And in the meantime -  we will show kindness for each other, we will give each other the grace and the space to grieve.

We will be kind and show grace to each other.
That we will help each other stay productive while working through this difficult time.

You set the mood.

Serious, supportive, kind, compassionate, and productive.

I recommend that you do something similar - on the first day you are able to share the information..

Send out the Information about your company EAP and grief counseling.

Don't expect much from them on the 1st day. Let folks go home if you can.

Many of them will need at least a night's sleep to get this processed.

Then start – one-by-one bringing folks in to assess how they are handing things and re-assigning work on the 2nd day or 3rd day.

You may want to have a memorial in about month.



Be prepared for some folks to not handle it well.  If you have staff or other folks in the company that are friends with your staff, make sure they check on each other for about week.

We had 2 or 3 minor meltdowns, and one very severe melt-down that happened at their home.  Thank Goodness some of my staff were friends and visited them.

Expect strange things for about month.

Good Luck




ssentes's picture

We're here to support again this week, contemplation101, don't hesistate to reach out if we can be of assistance. If anyone else experiences these hard times, there's a cast for managing through a personal crisis:

contemplation101's picture

Thank you Sarah and Mark. Your support has really helped tremendously. There are recommendations you provided that were key in order to affirmatively manage through this time. Especially, keep my schedule. No specifics on 'cause of death' were provided beyond our core leadership team. It's been challenging getting asked several times a day "What happened?". R was extremely respected on the team and everyone is grieving in their own way. I've been doing my best to ensure the work continues to get done. There certainly were exceptions on the day of the announcement whereby I just needed to listen, and then send some folks home, and then follow-up, and listen some more.

ssentes's picture

I'm glad we were able to help, this is a really tricky situation and one that I hope very few managers need to navigate. If other questions come up or you run into isses, don't hesitate to reach out, that's what we're here for!