The construction industry in the United States faces a tragic issue, one of the highest suicide rates among all professions. Suicide is complicated, and this crisis is compounded by factors such as opioid usage. The “man up” culture prevalent in physically demanding job industries like construction often discourage open discussions about mental health. However, there are ways to combat this issue and promote mental well-being among the workforce.
The first step in combating suicide within the construction industry is to break the silence. Encouraging open discussions about mental health can have a profound impact. By sharing personal experiences and providing support, people can find hope and realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Resources, such as the Center for Construction Research and Training’s whitepaper on workshop specifics, offer guidance and training to help construction workers seek and provide assistance effectively. Construction workers need to be alert and focused when working as they have to handle and work around heavy equipment.
Caring Beyond Work Hours
Ensuring that employees and coworkers have a support network outside of working hours is very important. Building a culture of care and concern can make a big, big difference. Encourage team members to check in on one another regularly. A simple conversation can provide some much needed support. Create mechanisms, such as call sheets, where individuals can allocate time throughout the day to connect with colleagues who may be in need.
Hopelessness is a driving factor behind suicidal thoughts. In the construction industry, where physical health is of great importance, it is important to address both physical and mental well-being. Recognize the physical challenges your employees face, such as injuries and health concerns. Provide opportunities for cross-training and education to instill hope and the prospect of a brighter future.
Promoting Awareness and Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Week, following Labor Day, and National Suicide Prevention Month in September provide opportunities for raising awareness. Participate in campaigns like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s that focus on open and honest discussions about suicide while promoting messages of optimism.