September is Suicide Prevention Month. It’s a topic we all generally avoid due to the uncomfortable nature of the matter. But suicide is a real threat to our industry and deserves its time in the spotlight.

According to statistics released by the CDC, construction ranks among the top for all industries related to suicide. It’s a staggering number that is 4 times higher than the suicide rate of the general population; 45 suicides per 100,000 workers annually; 15 suicides per day. The annual number of construction industry suicides exceeds the work-related deaths fivefold. This is a crisis in our industry that we need to STAND UP and address.

In response to the CDC study, CFMA (Construction Financial Management Association) established the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness about suicide prevention and provide resources and tools to support the construction community. ABC National has since partnered with the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) to help raise awareness to ensure that our workers arrive safely at work the next morning.

So why is the suicide rate so high in construction? The answer to this is multifaceted.

  1. The construction industry is a commonly chosen career path for veterans, which have a higher risk of suicide than the general population.
  2. With the general nature of the business, workers move from jobsite to jobsite leaving them less connected to family and the workplace community.
  3. Working long, irregular work shifts, affects sleep patterns and sometimes causes sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to poor mental health.
  4. Seasonal layoffs, translating into loss of income and sometimes benefits, adds stress that can feel overwhelming.
  5. The physical demands of the work can take a toll on the body and in some cases causing chronic pain that leads to self-medication through overuse of drugs or alcohol.

What Can You Do? We can all start by acknowledging that mental health awareness and suicide prevention are just as important as jobsite safety issues. Ensure that your company provides a safe culture, a place where your employees enjoy their job and experience a sense of purpose and belonging.

Provide training to identify and help your employees that are at risk. Raise awareness amongst your employees and peers of the crisis that is upon our industry. And lastly, normalize the conversations around the importance of mental health and suicide. Too often we are reluctant to discuss the topic of mental health, fearful to discuss or viewing it as a weakness.

There are endless resources at our fingertips, and I encourage you all to take some time to educate yourself on this topic. Start by going to the CIASP website. Download “Toolbox Talks,” or scan QR code and make this your topic for discussion in the month of September. Discuss this topic at your next
staff meeting and make ABC’s Total Human Health part of your safety culture.

Together we can all make a difference by taking the Pledge to Stand Up for Suicide Prevention.

Helpful Resources:
Construction Industry Alliance
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Crisis Text Line