Aug 27, 2019
Prevent Suicide Among Your Construction Crew
The construction/extraction industry ranks in the top five industry categories for the highest numbers of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Occupation and Suicide report.
According to this article by Sally Spencer Thomas, the construction industry is a perfect storm of risk factors for suicide: the demographics of our workforce, the transitory nature of our work, and the likelihood of constant pain or injury.
Demographics of Suicide Risk
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, teens are not the group most at risk for suicide death,” writes Thomas. “While certainly suicidal thoughts and behaviors often begin in adolescence, the group most at risk for suicide is men in the middle years. In fact, it’s often our toughest, bravest and most stoic people that become most at risk for suicide death.”
Transitory Work Situations
In the asphalt industry, most folks around the country are used to finding other employment outside of paving season. Secondly, the construction industry is generally hit hard by economic downturns. And, our workers may not have the same sense of belonging when they’re constantly heading to a new “work place” every time they start a new job. All of these factors can lead to stress, anxiety and other mentally and emotionally taxing challenges.
Injury and Chronic Pain
Lastly: injury. The physical demands of construction work can lead to chronic and acute pain problems. This can reduce sleep, harm well-being, and even diminish social circles when the person dealing with chronic pain gives up activities they enjoy that may contribute to their pain.
All of these factors contribute to the overall suicide rate among the men and women working in the construction industry. Although understanding these factors is important, it’s even more important to learn how to identify employees who may be struggling with these challenges and link them to appropriate care. For a blueprint to guide you in these efforts, check out ConstructionWorkingMinds.org.
We must address the mental health crises in our workplace, and it’s important we do so with compassion and empowerment.