A surprising statistic has been revealed by a report by the Mates in Construction suicide prevention program, according to which up to 90 per cent of people working in the WA South West construction sector knew someone who had committed suicide. This is proof of the extent of the problem of suicide and depression in the construction industry and in fact among the entire population. But construction workers in particular seem to be prone to depression and subsequently suicide, a problem which can be significantly reduced if colleagues and mates intervene when they notice something is wrong.
Organisers of the Mates in Construction program apparently collected anecdotal evidence in Bunbury last week which found that 70 to 90 per cent of those questioned admitted to knowing someone who had committed suicide.
Mates in Construction held a training session for the Master Builders WA South West committee early this month. This is what it’s Chief Executive had to say according to an article on Yahoo’s News site:
“The people who attended came to see suicide is a problem in the construction industry,” Mates in Construction WA chief executive Sergio Del Borrello said.
“Ninety per cent of the people there said they knew someone who had committed suicide.”
Data from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention showed employees in the construction industry were six times more likely to commit suicide than to die in a work accident.
The institute’s research said 40 out of 100,000 workers in the construction industry committed suicide a year and 60 in 100,000 for workers aged 15-24.
The Mates in Construction program teaches people how to recognise early signs of suicidal tendencies and how to approach them.
“Men tend to talk about base things, nothing deep, although that’s not to say men can’t communicate,” Mr Del Borrello said.
Mr Del Borrello went on to explain that a strong community focus such as they possess in the South West can be capitalised on to tackle this problematic issue as Mates in Construction is doing in the region. This closeness in the community is what is needed for people to support each other and help combat suicide by looking for the signs and intervening.
One of the problems associated with the construction industry is that it is unfortunately still a male dominated industry, associated with a “macho” culture, one that does not promote talking about ones problems or feelings, which often leads workers to bottle up their emotions, leading to severe depression (which they are often too embarrassed to address with mental health professionals) and it can lead to suicide as it has done in the past. Colleagues and mates have been identified as a key factor in dissuading workers from committing suicide.
The post on Yahoo News goes on to explain:
About 30 per cent of the people at the training session expressed an interest in being trained to identify suicidal behaviour and ask the important questions.
Master Builders WA South West regional manager Geoff Bosustow said last week’s presentation was well received by the committee.
“The program allows for the simple recognition of potential trigger points or indicators in our work colleagues and mates, allowing people the opportunity to open lines of communication and assist each other through times of stress,” he said.