Recently the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) and the CIBSE Patrons hosted a seminar at which The Samaritans were a guest speaker. In their speech they spoke about the alarming suicide rates of men in the construction industry.
According to mental health volunteers suicide is responsible for six times more deaths than falling from heights.
There was 6,122 deaths from suicide last year (that’s one every 90 minutes), 76% of which were men. When you compare this is 1,775 deaths from traffic accidents it lends some perspective to the situation.
The biggest causes of suicide are typically depression and mental illness. They can be brought on numerous ways, such as money worries, working in a stressful environment, drugs and alcohol. Mr Skinner, the speaker on behalf of the Samaritans told the seminar that men from poorer economic backgrounds are 10 times more likely to take their own lives than those that are better off financially.
According to a recent survey of BESA and ECA members, 80% of employers in the building engineering sector recognised mental health as a major issue within their organisation. But, despite this recognition, they were at a loss of how to deal with it.
The problem is not only in getting employers to recognise there is an issue, but there has to be a general change in culture in the construction industry. ECA director of Business Policy Paul Reeve said that this sector: 'simply labels anyone with a mental health issue as weak'. And 'it won't be easy, but we must challenge this sort of prejudice'.
There must also be a shift within the Health and Safety sector, currently the vast majority of the focus is on traditional health and safety protocols. MR Skinner, the Samaritans regional partnership officer said 'with the amount of energy being put into managing physical risk; you have to question whether the industry is getting the health and safety balance right.'
If you, or anyone you know is having trouble with mental health then do not hesitate to call The Samaritans on 116 123.