A little over a year ago, I had an employee in a leadership position. She was nice enough and when I came on board, I needed her more than she needed me. It was at the height of Covid and I knew almost no one in the mix, herself included.
As time went on, she became far less reliable, but I still needed her. Invariably, I would get an email, call or text saying "does April still work here?" As she was "out in the field", I didn't see her that much, but I knew she had a lot of sites and was buy. But the questions persisted and became more frequent.
Her availability became horribly noticeable and even started shirking our 1:1s. Then recruiting would tell me she wasn't making interviews that were set up, though she claims she was there and hired people - all of which turned out to be big fat lies.
I attempted to counsel her. Disappearing for days on end is usually a bad sign and I always assume drugs or alcohol. She admitted to nothing being wrong but I still steered her to EAP. As far a I know, she rejected it. So I had to proceed.
Management doesn't get corrective actions per se. A 'note to file' apparently is supposed to be a bad thing. I think it's lame. But HR assured me most people quit when they get one. When I gave it, I made a bet with HR that April would file for FMLA and how long before it would happen. They told me I was crazy.
....and I was. I had guessed a week. It took her four HOURS to file.
I never heard from her again.
Of course, I had to wait 12 weeks to even be able to post that job. Attempts at texting were for naught. Attempts to get keys and her laptop back were time wasters. When HR finally let me terminate her, it was through certified mail.
Fast forward 13 months.
Sunday night at 20:35, I start getting texts from work folks. It seems like April had taken her own life. I just didn't get the notice, but the screen shot from her husband's IG or Facebook account.
Social Media is a fucked up thing. I post for funny shit (jury is still out on that), but not to convey life changing anything. Her husband's post started out about losing his loving wife and mother to their kids - and how they'd meet in another life.
Yeah - somewhat standard, though fucked up it was only a few hours after her death.
But then it went on: WHY APRIL. WHY WHY WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!??!
What. The. Fuck.
I get grief but this is a cry for attention. Not help. Attention! Her family and friends get to see this. Her ex co-workers did. And then sent it out to anyone who didn't see it.
Little sleep, had I, on Sunday night.
I had to start out my Monday staff meeting with the news of her passing. That's all I said, because no one needed to know more and I had no answers to their questions either. My boss stopped in afterward to see how I was doing.
Of course, I feel bad for her kids - one being like 5 - but I tried over weeks and months to help her just get her work life together and even what the underlying issue might be. Clearly there were other issues at play, none of which I am trained to fix.
It was nice he checked in, but I did what I could and she refused my reaching out.
I will say, I think I shocked my boss when I said, "I'm never getting that laptop back now.....".
The National Suicide Hotline is: 988.
Song by: White Lies
I think your comment to your boss was priceless!
You can suggest help, and you did. It is hard when a coworker or former co-worker dies. Worse when it is self inflicted. And you are right, you never get the laptop back.
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