You may not ever have heard of Sudden Death Syndrome before.
Perhaps you have heard of it, but you’ve shied away from learning more (Sudden Death Syndrome doesn’t sound very positive, after all).
Or maybe it has affected you.
Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) is a comprehensive medical term that refers to the different causes of cardiac arrest in young people, aged 35 and under. They are defined as “non-traumatic, non-violent, unexpected occurrences resulting from cardiac arrest within as little as six hours of previously witnessed normal health.”
In other words, that bright, energetic person you said hello to on the stairs this morning could be gone by the time you’ve finished your day at work.
Now let me ask you: if that person was one of your employees, would you know how to support the rest of your workplace? What if SDS were to affect the spouse of an employee with a young family, now unexpectedly thrown into life as a single parent?
These are bold questions, and I don’t blame you if you struggled to answer them. Yet SDS is an incredibly cruel and shocking condition that affects many more people than we might first think.
As an EMDR therapist, I was recently asked to support an employee whose fit, healthy, thirty-something husband had died suddenly of SDS. As you might imagine, this was an emotionally devastating time for her, and she wanted to find out as much as she could about her husband’s sad death. During her investigations, she learned that 600 people die from SDS each year in the UK alone.
Did that fact surprise you? It certainly surprised me.
It can be incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that a young, apparently fit and healthy person can just disappear. Although people naturally want to find concrete answers, the causes of SDS are often unexplained. Contrary to popular belief, playing sport or training at the gym do not specifically lead to cardiac arrest; however these things can exacerbate a previously undetected condition.
When it comes to supporting your employees in the wake of such a tragic event, offering a listening ear is a vital starting point. Your employees will be devastated, confused, and even potentially fearful about their own health. They will need to know that support is readily available to them.
The charity C-R-Y (Cardiac Risk in the Young) offer subsidised ECG (electrocardiogram) testing for young people in the UK, through a number of clinics. Learn more about the charity, and about SDS here.
Confidence to Return provide group training for HR practitioners and small business owners on company announcements and bereavement support, along with direct trauma counselling and coaching services for your employees.
To find out more, simply get in touch.