July 01, 2009

Bullying and suicide, Part 2

...Some victims of bullying pay the ultimate price by taking their own lives. There have been some attempts to estimate the number of suicides linked to workplace bullying but these attempts have been speculative as few people take their own lives for one single reason. This should not be taken as an indication that we think the numbers insubstantial or not worth worrying about. On the contrary, the seriousness of the problem is expressed in one Norwegian study which concluded that as many as 40 per cent of the most frequently bullied victims admitted to having contemplated suicide at some stage...

From: Workplace Bullying, what we know, who is to blame, and what can we do?


Anonymous said...

Workplace bullying can feel like slow torture or like repeated rape.

You know that it is going to keep happening and that there will be no escape.

The worst kind is very different from a strong management style... it is so subtle... and designed to cast the target as a trouble maker.

Workplace bullying as the means to a calculated end can be the most insidious... and the most difficult to detect.

Where incidents are looked at individually they can often be refuted... apparently plausible explanations given

I believe that I have faced such behaviour for years

In silence

On my own

I dare not speak about my experiences

My story is silenced.

It can feel like a living hell.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Universities seem to prefer silence and if not silence - because some of us refuse to be silenced - then denial.

From Times Higher blog where Carl's death (Solent university) is reported and discussed.

There are a range of responses to Carl's death.

Technology creates new spaces where there is more transparency...

We better use these spaces as productively as possible before they are closed down..

Society has learned the hard way that institutions are not capable of self regulation. The THE blog makes some of the issues more transparent as we see the way in which people respond.

Universities seem to prefer silence and if not silence - because some of us refuse to be silenced - then denial.

I understand Carl in tears.... those of us who are bullied do cry... in private on our own

Universities seem to prefer silence and if not silence - because some of us refuse to be silenced - then denial.


We better use these spaces as productively as possible before they are closed down...

They will be watching us. (she giggled happily as she skipped down the street to....)

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

An extract from an open letter to my prestigious research university – prompted by Carl’s death. I apologise to friends and family of Carl for using the space in the way that I have done. I hope you will understand. I think Carl would have done.

…these practices feel relentless and yet you claim there is no evidence of workplace bullying. As teachers we know that until you get the behaviour right it is impossible to achieve any real learning. If you can’t 'get the behaviour right', with the support of some of the governors, then I don’t believe anyone can. The power is in your hands.

We have to address the reality and speak the truth; that requires both courage and trust – a philosophical opportunity to review what is happening. Not just using the jargon without touching real life.

Cases of alleged workplace bullying such as mine (and Carl’s) are very serious. You know that.

I do not know if you are aware of the case at Solent University which is currently being debated on the Times Higher blog. There are some links to my case so you may find it useful to review what is being said.

I can assure both you and the university that I am mentally very strong so I would assure you that there is no danger that I would take my own life as Carl has done. In saying this I do not mean any disrespect to Carl - in some ways his death has helped me. It could so easily have been the other way round. However – I do believe that the university – key members of senior management - have taken completely unacceptable risks with regard to my ability to cope with this situation.

On the Times Higher blog you will see reference to Carl’s university and the kind of debates that his death has prompted in this space that new technology has created. There is also testimony from a close friend of Carl’s – both on this blog and the Times Higher blog. She describes the effects of the long-term humiliation on Carl – crying in his kitchen after yet another meeting where he had been humiliated.

In the end he could no longer cope with the pain and took his own life. We can read about the response of the university – their defence that no one had taken out a grievance against the manager of Carl’s department.

There are others – Diana Winstanly from Kingston – whose death is recorded somewhere on this blog. My pain is also recorded on this blog - over a period of years. This blog has been and continues to be my lifeline in my darkest and bleakest moments… when the bottle of pills seems so tempting.

Carl’s close friend is now under police surveillance and cannot defend herself. The state too colludes it would seem in these cases. She has been threatened 3 times with legal action by the university... 1984 is alive and well.

As you have agreed – cases of workplace bullying are very serious. As is evidenced by Carl’s case they can spiral out of control in ways that cannot be foreseen. – sometimes with a tragic loss of life.

I would agree that spaces such as blogs are not the best place to debate these issues – yet they are the only spaces available for those of us who believe that we are targets of workplace bullying.

Silence and denial is not the way forward. I would ask that the university….


I cannot include any more as that would reveal to my university who I am

I would urge anyone who is concerned about workplace bullying to speak out in their university - find someone with the power and the courage to help you.

Write a letter to you MP.

Write to anyone who has the power to take this issue forward before we have any more deaths.

In solidarity - and thinking of you Carl - that last walk...

Aphra Behn