MICHIGAN: Blue-Collar Suicides Focus of State Prevention Effort
March 24, 2023
Michigan is taking steps to address suicide in the construction industry. In 2019, the suicide rate among the state’s construction and extraction workers was four times higher than in the general population. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) held its first annual construction and suicide awareness week last September to start conversations with construction workers about workplace conditions, chronic stress, and suicide. That event was part of LEO’s new hub of resources for promoting mental health in the workplace, which was developed in response to a report from its Workplace Mental Health Workgroup. LEO experts believe long hours, job uncertainty, and hazardous workplace conditions may be among the factors contributing to increased suicide rates among people in construction. According to David Worthams, director of employment policy at the Michigan Manufacturers Association, addressing worker mental health can be good for business as well as for workers. “One study we read was for every dollar an employer spends on mental health services, they actually save close to $14 in not having unexpected absenteeism or sick days,” he said. Sean Egan, LEO’s deputy director for labor, reports more and more businesses are recognizing the value of addressing mental health in the workplace.
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