Awareness: The Risk of Suicide in Construction
It’s hard to change things that we aren’t even aware are issues or are in need of change. For many years, the construction industry was unaware that its workforce was at 4x higher risk of dying by suicide than the rest of the population. While it is still shocking to hear that, now that we know, it’s up to us to build awareness and help to save lives.
Each shift on most construction sites, crews complete a Task or Job Hazard Analysis. You may have already done one today. During this process, the jobsite and tasks for the day are discussed and the risks associated are identified, and then ways to prevent those risks from resulting in incidents are determined. Just like this, with awareness we can work to identify the risks and warning signs that somebody may be at risk of suicide and take the steps to reduce that risk.
Some of the warning signs for suicide are changes in behavior – becoming withdrawn, acting anxious, agitated or reckless, misusing drugs or alcohol – and changes in performance like missing work or showing up late, not being able to think clearly or solve problems, being less productive and having increased safety incidents.
Other warning signs come from what they say – talking about feeling trapped, wanting to die, feeling like they are a burden and saying that it would be better if they were gone.
It’s also important to know what is going on in their lives – major life changes like children leaving home, divorce or breakups, death in the family, major illness or injury and financial issues can all put people at risk for suicide.
Now that you know the signs, you can be more aware of what is going on with the people around you. If you notice someone seems to be at risk, don’t hesitate to ask them if they are ok and let them know you are there for them. You don’t have to be the one to solve their problems, but you can help them connect to care like your EAP, or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or Crisis Text Line.
Toolbox Talk #1: AWARENESS The Risk of Suicide in Construction
Toolbox Talk #2: DECREASE Changing the Statistics of Suicide in Construction
Toolbox Talk #4: SAFE Mental Health & Suicide Prevention as a Safety Priority