COLORADO: A Risky Business—Examining Suicide in Construction

September 28, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Colorado

Colorado Builder

According to the most recent data available from the Colorado Department of Health, construction workers have the highest suicide risk of any occupational group in that state. Factors associated with suicide risk in the construction industry include substance abuse, difficult working conditions, lack of access to mental health care, and a culture of self-reliance that discourages help-seeking. Construction companies can take steps to prevent suicide among employees, according to clinical psychologist and suicide prevention expert Sally Spencer-Thomas. Leadership can educate workers about the warning signs for suicide and encourage them to reach out for help when they are struggling. Training programs, such as Question, Persuade, Refer and safeTALK, can teach employees how to identify and assist those at risk for suicide. Peer support programs can be particularly helpful in a male-dominated industry where employees are reluctant to seek professional help, said Spencer-Thomas. “For most companies, safety is the top priority, and safety only works if the workers have got each other’s back.”

Spark Extra! Check out the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention.