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Date PostedJune 2, 2013

White Card Update: Overcoming High Suicide Rates on Construction Sites

The issue of suicide amongst construction workers has been addressed in the South West Construction Sector where suicide is a massive problem affecting a large percentage of workers from the construction industry.

According to the Mates in Construction suicide prevention program up to 90 per cent of people working in the South West construction sector know someone who has committed suicide.

Mates in Construction last week conducted a training session for the Master Builders WA South West. The Mates in Construction program is a campaign aimed at preventing suicide in the construction industry. The program collected anecdotal evidence in Bunbury last week that found 70-90 per cent of those asked knew someone who had committed suicide.

According to an article on Yahoo News the Mates in Construction program revealed to the people that attended what a huge problem suicide is in the construction industry. A concerning trend emerged from the responses at the program which revealed that a staggering ninety per cent of the people in attendance knew someone who had committed suicide.The program uses evidence-based suicide prevention principles and principles of intervention to help workers recognise signs in their colleagues and intervene. The program was prompted by research in Australia and abroad which highlights elevated rates of suicide amongst tradesmen and construction workers in particular as compared with the general male working population

The post on Yahoo News went on to state:

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.

He said the strong community focus in the South West was the type of care Mates in Construction was trying to capitalise on.

“For us, having that community web in place is great because people can support each other even better,” he said.

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.

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/a/-/wa/17128152/industry-keen-to-tackle-suicide/

The post went on to quote Master Builders WA South West regional manager Geoff Bosustow, who said that last week’s presentation was well received by the committee. The program’s success is largely due to its method of simple recognition of potential trigger points or indicators in construction work colleagues and amongst mates. It also teaches workers how to keep the lines of communication open and teaches workers how to assist each other through times of stress which may otherwise lead them to attempt suicide.


Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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