In the construction business, suicide is a serious problem. It affects far more than the person that takes their own life and impacts many blue-collar workers and their families who work together on jobsites every day. Many of which carry on without realizing how much stress or emotional baggage they are carrying, or they simply don't want anyone else to know about these problems because it's hard enough being alone in many cases.
SO, WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
Simply put, more awareness about mental illnesses so that employees are aware of the resources available to them and co-workers if necessary.
Construction sites and workplaces are frequently stressful, with impossible deadlines. There's always the fear of being injured on the job or losing your job, which can lead to depression and sometimes suicide as a result.
It's clear that there is more to be done in terms of mental health awareness with 53% of all construction-related deaths being caused by workers.
Suicides are a tragedy that affect not just the victim but also their loved ones, and we all want to do everything in our power to prevent one. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these issues, so it's crucial you pay attention because certain information may be more applicable than others depending on your situation or location across the globe. The suicide rates in individual cities differ significantly, thus certain tactics may need to be modified depending on what works best locally without jeopardizing any other aspect at hand regarding prevention efforts.
Mental health issues are all too prevalent in the construction sector, and certain elements put employees at greater risk for them. A tough guy mentality, working with high pressure or remote places where there is no support system accessible (such as family), and a negative attitude may all lead you down a harmful mental path if it becomes ingrained in your personality over time. When dealing with daily problems on site with a lack of resources available, substance abuse may be observed, which has grown more common among this demographic because of job loss owing to bankruptcy.
The company I work with, Barnhart Engineers and Constructors, is dedicated to developing a company culture that empowers and supports workers in their mental health. I applaud all managers, field superintendents, as well as company-wide leaders in Barnhart's wind turbines construction division for this commitment by establishing an open atmosphere that allows employees to overcome any issues they may have when it comes time to address.
I'd strongly encourage every company owner to seriously consider adopting these methods into your current process, because we all know how difficult it might be to operate a business when you're not getting support.
The construction industry is aware of the problem. Working in the building and construction industries has become the deadliest profession in the United States. They are, however, more likely to take their own lives rather than be killed because of an on-the-job accident.
Working in the building and construction business is a physically demanding job. Workers are under enormous pressure to meet deadlines and work conditions that might be hazardous if strict safety standards aren't followed. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, male construction workers have a 65 percent higher risk of dying compared to all U.S. male employees.
Although more research should still be conducted, the CDC connects many suicide deaths to the following:
· low-skilled labor
· lower education
· modest incomes
· low socioeconomic status
· reduced job security
· high job stress
The construction sector operates on tight deadlines and sometimes mental health problems arise. Under such circumstances, workers might feel pressure and some employees may even be subject to disciplinary action.
Furthermore, construction is a high-stress environment with various types of difficulties occurring daily. When you combine the pressure from management and workplace issues, you discover that construction employees are endangering their health and working longer hours to meet deadlines, budgets, and quality standards.
Work-related stress is not a one-time occurrence. Rather, it builds up over time, putting construction workers at risk of mental health disorders that may result in suicide, and all these elements may contribute to mental illness and if untreated, their chances of suicide rise dramatically.
WORK AT REMOTE LOCATIONS
Construction frequently necessitates working in rural places. Living in hotels while moving to distant locations can be isolating. This implies people are separated from their main support system while they work under high pressure, thus adding to the loneliness of it all.
The removal of family members creates space for the family to function without you, which contributes to marital and parenting difficulties.
THE “TOUGH-GUY” SYNDROME
Construction is very much a male-dominated industry with workers who are largely low- educated. Masculinity and pride many times prevent them from recognizing mental health issues because of the "tough guy" stigma that persists in the workplace. Openness isn't appreciated in their work environment, and many of those working in it might be afraid of seeming "weak" if they acknowledged a lessoned state of mind.
OPIOIDS USAGE RAISES THE RISK OF SUICIDE FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
Construction is one of the most dangerous working environments in the world. The construction worker injury rate is 77 times greater than the national average. Because of high rates of job injuries and a long weariness from hard labor, construction has the highest usage of prescription opiates. Years of challenging physical labor can lead to chronic pain. As a result, many construction workers take opiates to function in a more peaceful state. The prolonged use of opiates causes dependence, which often leads to addiction and unfortunately sometimes even death.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's statistics, construction was responsible for approximately 26% of opioid-related deaths. It translates to 106 fatalities among every 100,000 blue-collar workers in the state, more than six times greater than the typical rate.
WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO TO PREVENT SUICIDES AMONG CONSTRUCTION WORKERS?
The expression of sadness and suicidal thoughts is still a sensitive issue in the construction business, which is dominated by men. The most effective approach to deal with mental health issues at work is to break the stigma surrounding it. For organizations to create a culture of openness around mental health, suicide, and addiction, they must first break the taboo.
The culture must develop the circumstances that encourage employees to speak up and raise issues, as well as provide the interpersonal skills they need to feel comfortable speaking up or seeking assistance. A focus on the upstream, midstream, and downstream approach is necessary for any workplace suicide prevention plan to enhance mental wellness and resilience while reducing toxic job strain and under-addressed mental health issues.
The ideal warning to someone who is considering suicide is to encourage them to seek help from certified experts and resources. Employers can promote prevention methods such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Construction Working Minds, or suicide prevention materials available on The Center for Construction Research and Training in their workplaces by adding them to locations around the jobsite where employees can easily see them.
They could access expert assistance through these channels to get out of their dark state of mind.
Construction companies should educate their managers and staff on recognizing possible warning signs of suicide in one another. You look out for each other's physical safety as well as your own every day. Another method of looking out for one another is to notice when a coworker appears to be struggling, down, irritated, or not themselves.
Construction businesses are aware of the importance of discussing workplace physical safety. Employees get instruction and other information before beginning jobsite operations. In addressing mental health, employers should adopt the same tenacious attitude as they do when it comes to operating gear on a construction site. The first step is for leaders to establish a clear tone that it's okay to have uncomfortable conversations.
This positive attitude toward mental wellness serves as an example for others and might have a beneficial trickle-down effect, making it easier for others to accept their mental health and seek assistance when necessary. To do so, construction firms must instill a culture of openness in their employees and empower them to feel comfortable seeking assistance. Such an attitude in the workplace challenges the "tough guy" stigma, allowing workers to openly communicate their concerns.
Another option is to change or evolve the language around the topic of mental health as males with a "tough-guy" mentality who are experiencing a mental health crisis might be hesitant to respond to "if you're sad, get help."
Employee Assistance Programs are a useful strategy for reducing suicide and mental health problems. These programs might assist staff in connecting with mental health and substance abuse services, as well as help to dispel the negative preconceptions associated with mental illness. Peer-to-peer initiatives can also be used to raise awareness of mental health issues while also fostering connections between workers and their loved ones.
HOW TO PREVENT SUICIDE
It may be tough to assist someone who is struggling with mental health. If you detect any suicide warning signals in someone, it's critical to take the next step and assist them in getting out of their condition.
1. RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS
Family members, friends, and coworkers can assist those who are suffering from suicidal thoughts by recognizing the warning signs. Some of the most prevalent indications include: An increase in tardiness and absenteeism at work, a drop in productivity, decreased self-confidence, or reduced communication with coworkers. All these things may also be indicative of drug use as well.
2. START A CONVERSATION
Starting a conversation with a coworker who is having suicidal thoughts is one of the finest things you can do for them. As hard as it may be to approach, the conversation may indeed be the one that saves their life. You should approach the conversation with genuine empathy for your co-worker, even if you don't comprehend their feelings. Being there to lend an ear to their problems and emotions is a good place to start.
Instead of accepting their notions and emotions, it's critical not to challenge them. You should never demean or remark, "this is just a phase," to them. This may be a major problem for them since they would already feel alienated. Let them know that the way they feel has value, but there are ways to find joy in life again. Be there for them and listen with intentionality without judgement or condescending attitudes.
3. ASK HONEST QUESTIONS
Another approach to help is to ask sincere questions. Asking straightforward questions might assist you in determining whether the person is suicidal, drugs are an issue, or it is just a bad day. Inquire about how they're feeling and if they've considered suicide. It's critical to communicate with compassion and openness, as you are demonstrating that you are someone they can rely on during this difficult period.
4. DIRECT THEM TO PROFESSIONAL CARE
Once you're confident that someone you work with or socialize with is having suicidal thoughts, the next step is to get them professional help. If the person is hesitant to seek professional assistance, maybe you can offer to accompany them. You can assist them by finding treatment facilities, making an appointment for them, or going with them to their doctor's visit. Your company and your companionship may be there very thing they need in the moment.
If you're unsure of how to assist them, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or Crisis Text Line (TALK to 741-741) for expert advice on what to do next.
The construction industry needs to improve mental health awareness and assistance, but this can only be done on one jobsite at a time through the mentorship of one employee at a time.
But remember this: we are never powerless. We may not always be able to change the world, but if we put out the effort, we might be able to influence one person's life and alter history.