Construction workers have highest rate of suicide among American workers
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Nov. 16 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report identified construction and extraction as the occupational group with the highest rate of male suicide among American workers. The CDC based its conclusion on data from 17 states and the 2012 and 2015 National Violent Death Reporting System.
- The construction and extraction group's rate of suicide per 100,000 civilian non-institutionalized workers was 43.6 in 2012 (1,009 total workers) and 53.2 in 2015 (1,248 total workers). In comparison and reflective of the relatively small number of women in construction and extraction, the number of female workers who committed suicide in 2012 was nine and then 14 in 2015. The suicide rate among all American workers aged 16 to 64 from 2000 to 2016 increased 34% from 12.9 per 100,000 workers to 17.3. Those not working at the time of their death — including those who were unemployed, disabled, incarcerated or in the military — were not included in the CDC's calculations.
- CDC recommendations for possibly decreasing the number of suicides is the fostering of social connections and economic supports, improving access to appropriate mental health and other resources and services and encouraging at-risk individuals to seek mental health treatment if necessary without the stigma that sometimes goes along with it. The CDC also suggests developing strategies to reduce at-risk individuals' access to "lethal means," company-wide plans for post-suicide response, support for surviving friends and family members and media reporting policies that don't sensationalize the details around incidences of suicide.
One of the ways that the construction industry has responded to the high rate of worker suicides is through the creation of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Comprising groups like the Construction Financial Management Association, Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, Dodge Data & Analytics and several local chapters of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the alliance provides information about mental health services and other resources.
"In addition to working through this coalition," said Brian Turmail, AGC vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives, "we also have been working aggressively to educate our chapters and members about suicide within the industry and to provide resources to them on ways they can help identify at-risk workers and what to do once they have identified them."
Some of the AGC's efforts include:
- Holding suicide prevention sessions at the AGC's Annual Convention
- Annual safety meetings
- Annual meetings of chapter leaders
- Covering the issue in the AGC's Constructor Magazine
- Sharing information and updates about the issue via various member newsletters
"At the same time," Turmail said, "we continue to seek better information about the root causes of the industry’s too-high suicide rate and work to identify or, if needed, create additional resources for our member firms. We can, and must, do a better job as an industry to prevent suicides within our workforce."
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012 and 2015
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