LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The United States government say that men working in construction have one of the highest suicides rates of any profession.
That’s why several groups came together Friday to talk about the issue, in hopes of spreading awareness and breaking the stigma.
“In any given year we may have about 1,000 people die from a workplace fatality caused by their work, but in that same year we will lose 5,000 to suicide,” said Sean Egan, Deputy Director of Labor for the state of Michigan.
On Friday, construction workers from across the state met to discuss how to prevent suicide in their field. Organizers believe the stigma that asking for help is “weak” is leading to more cases.
“I think we have this characteristic ‘strong guy’ perception that people have out there, and we’re sort of taught to grin and bear it. I think we need to make people understand, in this industry in particular, that we have to be open to talking about our challenges,” Egan said.
That’s why there’s a push to train workers to notice the warning signs that someone may be depressed.
“Emotional warning signs include no longer being able to find joy or pleasure in the things you once enjoyed. And some of the behavioral change warning signs to look out for are mood swings and a change in character,” said Bart Pickelman, director of Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Organizers at Friday’s event described creating a workplace that allows people to talk about their mental health and gives people access to resources that could end up saving a life.
“They need to understand that is not just for those contemplating suicide. If you feel like you’re in crisis, you feel like you’re struggling — call 988 and they will connect you with community resources,” Pickelman said.
“And we need to make sure that workers all over the state in the construction industry are ready to step up and speak up about how they’re feeling and what they need,” he continued.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, please call the suicide hotline at 988, so they may connect you with mental health services in your area.