Not looking for advice, just sharing and maybe looking for some moral support.
I've been in business full time for 9 years. I've had a couple of temps that I didn't keep on, but I haven't had to fire anyone before. This employee's been working for me for almost exactly two years, and I've known her for seven.
I've been warned about the dangers of hiring friends (notably by another friend who grew her company to about 100x the size of mine) but except for this case it's generally gone well and I've got a great team working for me. This employee has had a lot of problems with productivity and accuracy, though. I've put her on probation a couple of times and I've tried to be as understanding as possible about physical and mental health issues, but I can't have someone on their phone half the day when the rest of the crew is working their butts off. It fosters resentment and I can't afford to fix mistakes and not get a reasonable level of productivity out of someone.
I'd held off on making the decision partly because of her mental state; I know a bit about what she has going on in her life and I didn't want to make things worse, but I couldn't put it off any longer.
Her reaction was to attempt suicide. She took a bottle of pills and posted about it online. Fortunately what she took doesn't sound like it's going to cause any lasting harm, other than the ER bill. I'm told at least 15 people called 911 when they saw her post. She's in the hospital now.
i just feel numb. I knew this was a possibility and I made sure friends were nearby. I don't know how I could have done it any more gently, and I couldn't keep her on any longer without risking dragging the whole (very small) company down and leaving us all without jobs.