In September, Suicide Prevention Month, the construction industry devotes a week to tackling the critical issue of worker suicides and promoting mental health during Construction Suicide Prevention Week.
Every year, during September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, the construction industry dedicates a week to raising awareness about the unique challenges workers face in construction that lead to suicide and what we, as a community, can do to prevent it.
During Construction Suicide Prevention Week organizations of any size have the opportunity to participate in this important movement as we all join an effort to get life-changing information to the people who need it, lift the stigma surrounding mental health conversations, and come together as a community to save lives.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among working age adults in the United States. It deeply impacts workers, families, and communities. In the U.S. there are approximately 123 suicides per day which means there is one death every 12 minutes.
The construction industry has the second highest rate of suicide in the United States at 53.3 per 100,000 workers according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Fortunately, like other workplace fatalities, suicides can be prevented.
A major roadblock to addressing the issue of suicide in the construction industry is the stigma associated with the concepts of depression, mental health challenges, and seeking help. This stigma makes it incredibly difficult for those who may be considering suicide to get the help they need.
When it comes to participating in a suicide prevention initiative, the idea of where to start can be overwhelming. The volunteers who started this campaign have put together a library of resources, including websites, toolbox talks, and more, that you can use to put together a program for your workplace that could save lives.
Use the resources provided to plan activities with your workers during Construction Suicide Prevention Week. If you register, participating companies will receive an OSHA-recognized, industry-endorsed certificate of participation and badge you can display on your website and social media.
Here are some specific ideas of ways your organization can participate in Construction Suicide Prevention Week:
- Share Who to Call in a Crisis, which is a list of organizations and phone numbers that anyone can call when they need help. Many people may not know who they can turn to when they need help and this simple act can put that information in front of those who need it.
- Schedule a safety stand-down or safety meeting to talk about mental health and suicide prevention. Share videos that provide testimonials and actionable advice.
- Host one or more toolbox talks on topics like construction suicide dangers, reducing stigma, recognizing warning signs, how to listen, and how to seek help. These topics are available in both English and Spanish.
- Hire a guest speaker to help educate your employees on suicide prevention and mental health awareness. A speaker sourcing guide is available in the Helpful Links section to help you find an expert who can speak in-person or virtually to your team.
- Order hard hat stickers, wristbands, and magnets to pass out to your crew. The more visibility you provide to how anyone can seek help using the national suicide prevention lifeline, the more you remove the stigma around the idea of seeking help.
- Post your efforts on social media. By sharing how your organization is promoting this campaign you are proactively working to stamp out the stigma around mental health and can prevent deaths by suicide.
- Hand out or hang up OSHA’s Suicide Prevention Poster, available in both English and Spanish, to let workers know that Top 5 Things to know about Suicide Prevention.
- Look through OSHA’s collection of suicide prevention resources for even more ideas of ways you can participate and information you can share.
When developing and improving workplace safety programs, it’s important to remember that addressing mental health issues can be as important as preventing physical health hazards on the job.
During Construction Suicide Prevention Week those in the construction industry have a unique opportunity to promote an important mental health awareness initiative aimed at those who may need it most. If your organization is not in the construction industry, consider participating in the broader campaign by planning activities during National Suicide Prevention Month.
By starting the conversation, breaking the stigma, and providing valuable resources, organizations demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their employees and contribute to a universal effort to save lives. The resources, activities, and information provided during this week are designed to empower and educate workers about the importance of mental health and the steps they can take to seek help.