It’s Time to Talk About It – Suicide Rate Amongst Construction Workers 3X Higher than Other Occupations

By on July 17, 2018

From AGCMO:  by Linda Billingsly, Client Development Manager, Terracon Consultants

There’s a dark secret in the Construction Industry, one that not nearly enough people are talking about: Suicide.

According to a 2017 Huffington Post article, the suicide rate is three times higher among construction workers than other trade occupations. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that nearly 1,500 workers in the skilled building trades died from suicide between 2011 and 2015. The ONS goes on to state that this number of suicide deaths is ‘significantly higher than those working as corporate managers or directors and more than 10 times those working in health and social care’. Estimates are that as many as 400 construction industry workers commit suicide annually, according to the ONS.

Within the Huffington Post analysis, Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite the Union said, “The way in which the construction industry operates directly affects the mental health of workers. Factors that affect the mental health of workers include low and inconsistent pay, lack of job security, working away from home, mental health stigma, isolation and poor working conditions. The problem in construction is exacerbated as there remains a taboo about talking about mental health issues.”

In response to this frightening upswing in suicide rates among construction employees, the Construction Financial Management Association launched the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. During its inaugural summit in 2016, the group brought together construction industry leaders and mental health professionals to discuss linking mental health to safety culture.

“Great strides have been made in breaking the wall of silence around mental health and suicide prevention,” said Cal Beyer, director of Risk Management at Lakeside Industries and Executive Committee member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.  “The construction industry workforce is at risk and contractors want to learn how to build a caring culture to help their employees get the assistance they need to cope with life struggles.”

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