Breaking the Silence on an Epidemic

Breaking the Silence on an Epidemic
The construction industry is experiencing the highest rates of suicide in our nation compared to other professions. It is time to break the stigma and start talking about this as a health and safety priority on our job sites.

Every 12 minutes a suicide takes place in the U.S.
The suicide rate among the U.S. workforce increased by 34% from 2000–2016
At 53 per 100K workers, the construction industry suicide rate is 4 times the national average
Less than half of adults get the mental health help they need

There are several factors contributing to high suicide rates in our industry:

  • Construction is comprised of predominantly white, middle-aged males, who have the highest rate of suicide among the general population.
  • 38% of U.S. construction workers were the age of 45–64 in 2018
  • In 2017, the highest suicide rate in the U.S. was among males age 45–54

Construction culture embodies a workforce that is: 

  • Self-sufficient, and less likely to seek help
  • Transient in relation to the work, making it difficult to establish support or workplace community
  • Influenced by the stigmas around depression and suicide, making it difficult to talk about 

The work is physically demanding with an aging workforce:

  • The injury rate for construction workers is 77% higher than the national average
  • Nearly 15% of construction workers deal with substance abuse
  • 21–29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them
  • With opioid use, the risk of suicide increases by 75% 

Make sure suicide prevention is recognized as an important part of health and safety on your job site. Here are some tips on how you can help break the silence with your brothers and sisters:

Check to see if suicide prevention resources are available in the job shack.
If not, call your Council Representative to get posters and cards out to your job. Click here to download the poster.

Is leadership talking about this important issue? Ask your job site steward to make sure that this epidemic is being discussed, alongside encouraging a supportive job site culture.

Actively lookout for the well-being of your brothers and sisters.
Practice your listening skills. Often the process of talking through a problem leads to solutions. 

Do you see signs that someone is struggling? It can be difficult, but asking direct questions and approaching the topic of suicide is important in letting that person know that they are not alone and that support is available. 

If you know someone is struggling, direct them to qualified resources such as the National Alliance On Mental Illness, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Veterans Crisis Line, or the Employee Assistance Program that is available through your Carpenter Trust. 

Suicide is preventable, click here for more information.

EDITOR’S NOTE – A statistical error was printed in the magazine and corrected in the article above: At 53%, the construction industry suicide rate is four times the national average.

Did You Know?

PNWRCC has many women in our crafts and leadership positions.

Margaret Ellings became the first woman initiated into the United Brotherhood of Carpenters in October 1935. The establishment of a women’s committee within the United Brotherhood of Carpenters is one of the most important developments in the union’s recent history. Visit ubcsisters.org

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