Suicide in the Construction Industry

Suicide rates among the construction industry workers continues to rise and some experts are calling it the “hidden epidemic.”  Recent reports show the construction and extraction industries have the second-highest rate of suicides: 53.3 per 100,00 workers.

There are many factors experts believe have caused this high rate, including:

  • isolating roles
  • times of unsteady employment, due to seasons
  • sleep distruptions
  • chronic pain caused by manual labor
  • pressure to finish projects
  • low or even inconsistent pay
  • poor working conditions

Some believe the industry’s male-dominated “tough guy” culture likely plays a role in the high rate of suicide.  Employees may not feel totally comfortable talking to their coworkers or managers about mental health issues.  They may shame themselves for experiencing anxiety and suicidal feelings because it might contradicts the idea ingrained in them that males should not be affected by their emotions. Validating those feelings can help men seek professional guidance or even reach out to someone about how they are feeling.Separation from families during seasonal work, high rates of alcohol and substance abuse, and a high-pressure work environment are also key factors.

Although more women are entering the construction sector, it still remains a male dominated industry, and men have higher rates of suicide. In fact, for men between the ages of 25 and 54, suicide is the second biggest cause of death.  So, what can managers do to help?

As a manager or supervisor, it is important to understand the stress triggers that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.  Create mental health campaigns and provide important worker training to help them identify the signs of stress.  And, possibly the most important, it is necessary to create a supportive work environment, so people are not afraid of being reprimanded.

Every company in the construction industry must work together to combat suicide.  An organization known as the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention encourages all construction firms to join together to share resources and initiatives among each other to raise awareness and involvement toward alleviating this issue.


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