Each year, more than 41,000 Americans die by suicide and almost half a million receive medical care for suicide attempts. Unfortunately, many Laborers are susceptible to suicide. Construction is one of the most at-risk industries with the highest number of suicides and the second-highest suicide rate. Construction workers spend time in life-threatening situations, like dealing with dangerous equipment and being at high elevations. Working in these conditions every day creates a sense of indifference about life or death. The construction industry has a fast-paced “suck it up and get it done” atmosphere that can make workers feel as though their employers only care about the work and not their well-being. Moreover, Laborers generally work in high-stress conditions, in addition to the dangerous situations. The jobs are often seasonal, and companies possess high turnover rates. Workers are often stressed about providing for themselves and family, and are always worried about finding their next job. All these things are contributors to the high number of suicides in the construction industry, and impact many Laborers as well.
There is no denying that suicide has become a huge problem but change needs to start somewhere. Many companies strive for 100 percent safety for their workers; suicide should be no different. The best way to prevent suicides in the construction industry is to change the culture on safety. Laborers should know all about safety, and it’s time for construction companies to shift their focus from caring solely about the work to genuinely caring about the well-being of the employees. Every company in the construction industry must work together to combat suicide. Suicide CAN be prevented and CANNOT be ignored.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free, confidential hotline, provides 24/7 assistance to anyone in crisis or emotional distress.
- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) connects you to the crisis center nearest you. These centers provide counseling and mental health referrals.
- Call 911 if someone has made a suicide attempt or is actively talking about committing suicide. If you are with them, stay there until help arrives.
Anyone who talks about killing themselves should be taken seriously. If you think someone is considering this but they deny it, seek assistance anyway. Time is of the essence when preventing a suicide and there is no such thing as an overreaction.
Additional LiUNA resource: A Blueprint for Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry