National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: a free and confidential phone line in the U.S., with operators working 24/7. Call 988, or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Culture of Quiet- The industry is one associated with sticking to yourself, and holding your emotions in a jar.
- Tough it out- The mentality of "man up" or "tough it out" is often associated with construction, furthering the idea to just keep everything to yourself, and keep on keeping on.
3 Prevention Techniques
- Talk about the risks.
- Care after they clock out.
- Foster hope.
Talk about the Risks
Aaron Witt of Build Witt mentioned during a panel at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 “When I talk about it online, viewers reach out to me and they say, ‘I appreciate you sharing because I’ve had a lot of these feelings. But seeing someone else just talk about it makes me feel like I’m not crazy… Like there’s a way out of this."
Just talk about it.
Holding it behind the curtain of stigma means that people will not reach out and talk about it when they need it most. CPWR - the Center for Construction Research and Training has a whitepaper on workshop details specifically targeting at starting the conversation, as well as offering training and resources to help construction workers get and offer help. When are open and honest about suicide, we can share resources more effectively rather than just reinforcing the stigma.
Care after clocking out
Do your workers have a support system at home? What are they facing when they get there? Building a community that encourages healthy communication and provides a way to facilitate these conversations, everyone will jump in to help. Care must be fostered in order to grow. Employee well-being comes before getting to the numbers. Care for your employees, and they'll care for others, and you, in return.
Michelle Walker, CCIFP, CRIS, SPHR, SSC Underground, spoke during a panel at CONEXPO CON/AGG 2023 and said “Suicide happens when hope is gone.” Everyone faces challenges. Some minor, some life changing. We all have some level of resiliency. Sometimes it's just relentless, and it gets harder and harder to see where the light at the end of the tunnel might be. People often need to be physically well to be mentally well. This is especially true in labor intensive jobs.
- Healthy food might get replaced with a quick and cheap substitute.
- Injuries are common
- Harmful addictions are rarely acknowledged and can lead to thoughts of harm or worse.
While you can't always provide a good meal, injuries and pain don't go away overnight, and kicking an addiction is a long road to walk alone, there is one thing you can do. You can provide your workers with a sense of hope, a sense that they are not alone in their fight, could help them push through for a better tomorrow. When you care, your workers and colleagues care, too. Help them help build hope for themselves – and each other.