Every year, the 10th of September is recognised as World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is a growing problem throughout the globe and the numbers tell a shocking story. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is committed somewhere in the world every 40 seconds, meaning approximately 700,000 people die every year to suicide. Currently, the construction industry loses one construction worker every day to suicide and 26% of construction industry professionals have thought about taking their own lives in 2019. These numbers were shocking even before the COVID-19 pandemic had hit the industry, and these statistics have only risen since then.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) created the World Suicide Prevention Day in 2003. The day is co-sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health and World Health Organization. The aim of World Suicide Prevention Day is to raise awareness to developing practises and actions to aid in preventing suicides.
The construction industry has become the deadliest profession in the UK and every day the construction workforce faces many unique challenges that can lead to suicide. This suicide prevention day Plant Planet explore these challenges and what we can do to prevent it.
Construction workers can spend long extended periods away from home and their friends and family. Even on site, some construction workers, such as crane operators are on one-man jobs – being away from loved ones or working alone for long periods of time can result in feelings of being isolated. Job insecurity is also a huge factor in the construction industry with many workers being self-employed or on temporary site projects. With the multitude of factors that can cause stress on the workforce there is also the added pressure to “man up”. The macho culture that is conceived in the industry has a dramatic impact on mental health, the ability to be struggling but not allowed to show it can take its toll on anyone. It is an unforgiving culture.
We have put together some useful tips from mental health experts to assist if someone you know is struggling with mental health.
- Listen – Sometimes a good vent goes a long way, allow the person to say all they want to without interrupting – simply sit and show you are listening.
- Take them seriously – don’t attempt to make light of the situation or try to make a joke in an attempt to lighten the mood. Someone experiencing mental health problems may feel isolated and want to know you are understanding them and know they are not alone.
- Reassure – Many can’t help feeling the way they feel – simply reminding them you are there for them instead of trying to tell them they have a lot to be thankful for, which may increase feelings of isolation and being misunderstood.
- Ask what they would like from you – If someone has come to you for advice on mental health, they have chosen you for a reason, be sure to be there for them and assist in anything they may need help with – even if its finding somewhere for support.
- Be direct – Don’t be afraid to be direct – being direct in these situations avoids any potential misunderstandings – and being direct is one step towards normalising the conversation, which is a step forward in increasing mental health awareness and removing the stigma. If you feel like there may have been a sign that relates to suicide, asking someone directly gives them encouragement to be direct in how they’re feeling too.
- Be There – Sometimes simply being there is a great help and don’t blame yourself if you are close to someone experiencing mental health issues. However, if you have any concerns, be sure to go to a mental health professional, be it a service or charity or GP.
There is no one solution to approaching mental health but ensuring that someone knows they are supported is crucial. There are many ways you can reach out this suicide prevention month, charities such as Mind, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, Construction Sport and the Construction Industry helpline are here to support anyone in need.