Workplace Suicide Prevention

October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, with the objectives of sharing information and awareness of screenings and prevention of workplace suicide.

Workplace Suicide Prevention

Perhaps nowhere is the need greater for depression awareness and prevention efforts than in the construction industry. The suicide statistics for construction are sobering. An average of 284 suicides occur each year in the workplace. Part of your workplace safety protocol should include depression/suicide awareness and prevention.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), construction has the second highest male suicide rate (43.6 suicides per 100,000 workers) right behind extraction, or Oil & Gas, at 53.2 per 100,000 workers.
  • The suicide rate in construction is about two and one-half times greater than the national average (17.3 suicides per 100,000 people).
  • According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men, and construction is a male dominated industry with 97% of the U.S. construction workforce being male. For men between the ages of 25 and 54, suicide is the second biggest cause of death. Also, more than 63% of construction workers are between the ages of 35 and 64.

What Can you Do To Support Workplace Suicide Prevention?

While suicide is admittedly a difficult subject to address with employees, all employers (and construction employers in particular) must recognize the statistics and proactively engage in awareness and prevention efforts. Some best practices include:

  • Post awareness bulletins (including a suicide hotline number) around job sites, which can help that one person open up and receive the treatment they need.
  • Raise awareness of warning signs through education, such as employee training to recognize (for themselves and co-workers) signs of social isolation, mood swings, changes in eating or sleeping habits and increased use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Develop a wellness program and committees for employees, which can assist in creating and keeping a healthier, happier workforce.
  • Establishing support groups that can provide a safe haven for workers to discuss feelings and frustrations, and receive support from others.
  • Help employees achieve an optimum work/life balance, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic when it is particularly challenging to find that balance.

Many people are unemployed while some industries are overrun with work and can’t keep up. Many factors play into the mental health of the employees including problems at home, financial trouble, and others. Coach employees on using the available Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is provided by most employers. Publicize and make readily available the valuable services and resources provided by these EAPs.

    • The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention offers resources to help employers establish programs and best practices for workers.

    Resources: Start A Conversation, Save A Life

    Need Immediate Help or Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

    If you are having thoughts of suicide, or if your feelings are becoming too much to handle, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or Text the Crisis Text Line - 741741. They are trained and equipped to help you cope with these thoughts and feelings.

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