Your Family Needs You: Suicide Prevention and the Construction Industry

By Scott Kubiszewski

I recently attended a half-day Suicide Prevention Summit hosted by on by the Puget Sound Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association and the AGC of Washington. During this summit I learned about a newly recognized issue in the construction industry that requires our attention to ensure that every Swinerton employee is aware that Your Family Needs You.

In 2016 there were more than 44,000 suicides in the United States. This is more than the 37,000 deaths in motor vehicle crashes that occur annually. The construction industry is considered to be high risk for suicide. In July 2016 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the first study of suicides by occupation, and the construction industry had the highest number of suicides and the second highest rate of suicides. The rate was four times higher than that of the general population. If the rate for architects and engineers is included, the rate is approximately six times higher than the general population.

Why the Construction Industry?

Construction has been considered a "rough and tough" industry to work in. Many construction employees work long hours and spend a lot of time away from their families—and there is a lot of pressure in the construction industry. This is frequently expressed as budget, schedule, productivity, quality, and safety standards. Studies also reveal that a majority of male employees do not take time to see doctors or mental health counselors.

Help is Available

Suicide is preventable! Seeking help is the first step. It’s critical that everyone at Swinerton knows and shares this information to promote our Make Safety A Habit, Your Family Needs You culture. We need everyone to care for one another—it’s not enough to just focus on getting people home safely at the end of a shift.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential service that is available 24/7. It provides crisis intervention for people having thoughts about self-harm or who are considering taking their life. The telephone number is 800.273.8255.

In addition, another free resource for help is the Crisis Text Line. You can text “help” or “connect” to 741741.