Construction workers have some of the highest suicide rates of any occupation in the U.S., according to the CDC. It’s estimated that the industry averages 45 suicides per 100,000—compared with the national average rate of 27 per 100,000. Male construction workers have a 65% higher suicide rate than U.S. male workers across all occupations, according to the CDC.
A report by Workwear Guru examines contributing factors for the high rates of suicide, citing mental health experts.
A high work-pressure environment: The report notes that tight deadlines, long physical working hours, budgets and quality expectations can lead to high stress, which can contribute to mental health problems.
Work at remote locations: Long hours or days away from home and support systems—on top of an already high-stress job—can lead to family problems, according to experts Workwear Guru spoke with. Being alone for such periods can also lead to substance abuse or mental health issues to go unnoticed.
A “tough-guy” mentality: The report states that a sense of masculinity within the male-dominated industry deters many within it from acknowledging mental health problems, and many work environments have a “tough guy” taboo that can discourage openness.
Opioids: As the industry with the highest occupational hazards every year, construction also has the highest use of prescribed opioids, according to the report. The result is an increased risk of opioid dependency, as research has found that 15% of construction workers abuse opioids.
The Workwear Guru report also addressed solutions to the suicide crisis, including more resources for construction employees and creating cultures of support for mental health issues among construction companies.
Some of the common suicide warning signs include:
- An increase of lateness and absenteeism at work
- Lower productivity
- Lower self-confidence
- Decreased communication with co-workers
- Shows signs of substance abuse
- Shows frequent signs of agitation
- Lack of protection in the workplace
- Segregation from the group (i.e., eating lunch alone)
For professional advice on the next steps, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be contacted at 800-273-8255 or via the Crisis Text Line (TALK to 741-741).