Should I tell HR?

A co-worker opened up to me about their mental health history and told me that they previously tried to end their life (3 years ago). They also recently felt super down because of work that they were reminded of this dark time of their life. I tried to reassure them and they seemed fine after that. I also checked in weeks later and all was good. Should I still be concerned? Am I responsible to tell HR? What if the person doesn't want to tell anyone? I don't want to go behind their back but I also don't want to feel guilty if anything happens given that life is unpredictable.

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Comments (13)

Nov 12, 2021 - 8:44am

This is a no go. The coworker entrusted that information to you only and would likely be very displeased if someone else at work knew. There's a great stigma around this whole topic, so your coworker doesn't want that stigma and trusted you enough to tell you and not others.

HR can't really help here. Supportive friends can.

The lone exception is if you know an attempt is in process, then you can pull all the levers in your power (law enforcement, health professionals, etc.). Otherwise, the information they confided in you should remain with you.

EDIT: One last thing. Heaven forbid your coworker ever feel so burdened that they give up their life, but in the event that they do, you shouldn't feel guilty about it at all. People have their internal struggles, and it sounds like you truly want to be supportive and help. Nothing more can be asked of you, and I hope you can find peace in that.

Nov 12, 2021 - 5:45pm

This is obviously a troll post and not even a good one.Β  Why would OP tell HR?Β  No one with a stitch of common sense would run to HR with this info.

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Nov 12, 2021 - 5:51pm

HR is the wrong avenue in this situation.

The verdict should be to call 911 or not. If someone is a threat to themselves or others, call 911. It seems like this person was just opening up to you without any intent to hurt themselves or others, so your response should be to not call 911 and don't tell HR.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Nov 12, 2021 - 11:08pm

Nope. Don't tell HR, but generally be there for your coworker. Checking in at appropriate times privately is the most you should do. If you're close with this person it could be a great help that your coworker knows someone is rooting for them, in their corner, and understands if they aren't 100% themselves for a bit. Mental health is a largely personal journey and I think your coworker's progress would be stifled if your company started breathing down their neck about this issue. It sounds like they are far better than three years ago and might just need to get over this last hump.Β 

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Nov 14, 2021 - 2:42am

It is terrifying how stigmatised Mental Health First Aid is in the workplace in the states.

Ok here is what you do. You phone a suicide prevention helpline in your country and get some professional advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.

Please ignore everyone else's comments speak to a professional and get appropriate advice to help your friend.Β 

Nov 14, 2021 - 10:49am

If you tell HR, you'd better hope he doesn't come hunting for you first.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

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Nov 15, 2021 - 3:39am

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