Male suicide in construction is a problem. Construction is renowned for being a high-risk industry, but it isn’t just physical injuries that are taking people’s lives. Male workers in the construction industry have the highest suicide risk of any male demographic. More than 1,400 construction workers took their own lives between 2011 and 2015.
Since 2015 things haven’t improved. In 2020 male suicide hit its highest rate since 2000. With men already accounting for the majority of suicides in the UK already, it appears the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified that.
26% of construction industry professionals thought about taking their own lives in 2019 said a study from the CIOB.
21% of all 79,000 workers suffering from work-related ill-health reported stress, depression or anxiety. That equates to 0.7% of workers in the sector believed their issue was work-related.
A report by the Office for National Statistics indicated that low skilled male labourers are a high suicide risk demographic. This is three times higher than the UK’s average.
Low skilled professions are not the only demographic at high risk. Those who work in finishing roles such as painters and plasterers had over two times the risk of the national average.
Workers in construction and building trades skills group have a 1.6 times higher risk than the average. Specifically, roofers, tilers and slaters had the highest risk of all roles (2.7 higher than the national average).
The reason for an increase in suicides for this demographic is unclear. It is difficult to tell whether they relate to the construction industry or the group’s lifestyle and socio-economic factors.
Studies suggest that the links between low pay, alcohol/drug abuse, time away from families, lack of support from HR and poor job security may be contributing to the suicides in the industry. Others suggest the “macho” culture of the industry works as a deterrent for people to talk about their mental health in such an environment.
A study by the CIOB has recently discovered “Over 30% of all construction sites have no hot water and no toiletry facilities for workers”. The same study found that 56% of construction workers operate on sites with no mental health policy in place.
Take a look at some helpful resources for suicidal thoughts and prevention here.
Take a look at what 3B Training are doing to raise awareness of suicide prevention here.
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