- The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention — now more than 15 industry group members strong — announced the launch of its communication and outreach initiative, according to the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA).
- The Alliance has provided its member organizations with written resources and "blueprints" for how to educate their memberships about suicide, the specific risk to the construction industry and how to organize suicide prevention summits.
- The CFMA launched the Alliance to proactively promote suicide prevention and mental health awareness efforts in the construction industry, as the segment of the population most susceptible to suicide "dominates the U.S. construction workforce," it said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, construction has the second-highest suicide rate of all industries. In 2012, the construction and extraction industry had a 53.3 suicide rate out of 100,000 workers. The sector also had 1,324 suicides, the highest total number of any industry in 2012. The CDC said the erratic nature of construction employment — and the potential financial, relationship and isolation issues — could make workers more susceptible to suicide.
Earlier this year, the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and RK Mechanical in Denver unveiled their suicide prevention guidebook geared toward helping construction industry executives identify suicide risk factors. The guidebook encourages open discussion of what construction workers might consider sensitive topics and explains how organizations can make mental health a priority.
One specific hurdle keeping those in crisis from seeking help is the stigma attached to psychological counseling. Herbert Nieburg, a psychologist and associate professor at Mitchell College, told Construction Dive in August that "people in the construction industry are not big on going to therapy and going to counseling."
Stuart Binstock, president and CEO of the CFMA, also highlighted the lack of awareness of construction's high suicide rate in the industry. He called the CDC report "a lightning rod" that "woke people up to an issue that they really were not aware of before."
Experts have also pointed to the power of construction industry leaders coming together to draw more attention to the issue and working together to establish potential solutions. The Alliance counts among its members organizations including the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America and the National Association of Women in Construction.