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When bullying has tragic consequences…

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently read this tragic story in the Daily Telegraph. Mike Gardner, a communications manager with the Sussex police force, committed suicide because he could no longer endure the bullying he received at the hands of his boss, Ms Mary Gardiner. “So why didn’t he leave the job if it was so bad?”, I hear you ask. The thing with bullying is most victims don’t see the warning signs until it’s too late. By the time you realise you have to get out of there, your self-esteem is gone and you lack the confidence to apply for other jobs so you feel trapped. This leaves you with three options: stay and fight, stay and don’t do anything about it or leave. Walking out of a toxic environment is difficult if one has family responsibilities like Mike Taylor did. This is a man who worked with the Sussex Police for 17 years and enjoyed his job – that is, until Ms Gardner showed up.

Ms Gardner’s behaviour is becoming very common. ‘Management by fear’ is what one does when one is incompetent and insecure. When bullying goes unchecked in a workplace, you know that HR is not doing its job properly. When someone decides to take their own life as a result of bullying, it’s not because they are weak, it’s because they have been so psychologically damaged that they just want the pain to stop. As Mr Taylor wrote in his note to his wife, ‘I need peace’. Those three words say it all.

Mr Taylor’s story is a really sad one. I, like many others, used to think that victims of bullying were weak – until I experienced it myself. While I never thought of suicide as an option during my experience, I know a few people who have. I always told myself that if I ever got to that point where I thought of killing myself, I would not be leaving this world alone – that bully and a few HR people would come along for the ride.

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