Construction firms urged to help prevent suicide deaths

CONSTRUCTION companies are being urged to introduce measures to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday 10 September.

With one death attributed to suicide every week within the industry, training specialist and executive coach, Nicky Denegri, is calling on firms to put mechanisms in place to support employees, help prevent suicidal behaviour and address some of the stigma that still exists around the subject.

According to the Office of National Statistics, suicide is the leading cause of death in England in adults below the age of 50 and Scotland has the highest rate of suicidal deaths. Low skilled labourers are said to be three times more likely than the male average to take their own life.

Nicky, whose parents both died by suicide, works with training specialists, Kissing with Confidence. She said, “Unfortunately suicide amongst young people is increasing, especially amongst those who work in skilled trade occupations and plant and machinery operatives and the unpredictability of the construction industry in recent years hasn’t helped. Suicide is the result of a convergence of risk factors including, but not limited to, genetic, psychological, social and cultural risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma or loss. Recent studies of survivors of suicide however, have showed that they don’t want to die but that the pain is so hard to endure they have no other way of knowing how to make it stop.

Nicky Denegri

“Relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide are also a high risk group for suicide which is why we need to be more aware of how we can help. People are often reluctant to intervene when they are worried for others. They may not feel knowledgeable enough, but people in distress are usually looking for someone to listen to them with compassion and empathy and, importantly, feeling suicidal is often temporary.

“As part of companies’ mental health policies I would urge these to be extended to encourage conversations at work as there is still a sense of shame around suicidal deaths for families who are affected. There are a number of awareness tools that can be introduced such as training first aiders in mental health to recognise signs and symptoms, providing information and workshops and highlighting support organisations such as the Samaritans and CALM. It’s important that we all encourage awareness and try to destigmatise suicide as its results are devastating for those affected.”

Construction company Multiplex recently launched an awareness campaign for employees.  Claire Scrimgeour, mental health & behavioural change advisor said, “At Multiplex we have been working with the Building Mental Health industry charter and our aim is to train every person to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression in themselves and others. Lived experiences from volunteers like Nicky are invaluable in our campaign to reduce the stigma of mental health illness in the construction industry and to get people talking.”