STAND Up for Suicide Prevention

  • Oct 6, 2020

By Elizabeth Haynie, Health and Wellness Benefits Manager

Throughout September, we showed our support for mental health by promoting Suicide Prevention month. We care deeply about mental health because it impacts our industry more than others. Did you know construction occupations have the highest rate of suicide?

We’ve distributed over 2,000 mental health wallet cards to our office and jobsite employees. Suicide awareness posters are up at our sites, and mental health is now a part of safety orientations and toolbox talks. We reassure our people that “It’s ok not to feel ok,” by encouraging them to talk about their feelings with a mental health professional.

This year may be extra challenging for those suffering from mental health issues because of the events happening across our country and the world – including navigating the coronavirus.

Be Aware of the Warning Signs

One of the biggest concerns of note is the physical distancing necessary to keep the coronavirus at bay. Staying apart from one another may help prevent transmission of COVID-19, but it can also lead to feelings of loneliness, which may cause depressive symptoms. Loneliness is thought to have the same health effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

With this in mind, be aware of the behavior of those around you. Warning signs include behavior changes – excessive anxiety or worry, becoming withdrawn, acting anxious, agitated or reckless, misusing drugs or alcohol – and changes in performance.

Missing work or showing up late, not thinking clearly or solving problems, being less productive, and increased safety incidents are also red flags that something may be wrong.

Meaningful Ways to Support

Talking about mental health and feelings can help save lives. Don’t let unfounded myths fool you. Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide does not put the idea into their head.

Listen to what those around you say – talking about feeling trapped, wanting to die, feeling like they are a burden, and saying that it would be better if they were gone. Know what is going on in their lives. Significant changes like children leaving home, divorce or breakups, a death in the family, major illness or injury, and financial issues can put people at risk for suicide.

When assisting someone with their mental health, ask how you can help and involve them in decision making. Validating their feelings, being empathetic and checking in, following up, and connecting them to professional help are some of the best ways to be an ally and support system.

It’s also important to know what doesn’t help. For example, telling a depressive person they are overreacting or asking them to calm down is not supportive. While you may think its helpful, saying things that are stigmatizing, telling them to be happy, or pressuring someone into doing something they aren’t ready for are not, so take note not to do these things.

Educational Resources Help

If you want to support a loved one or friend with mental health, there are numerous resources to help guide you.

This Mental Health Conversation Card from NAMI can guide you through how to talk with someone, and this Suicide Risk Assessment Card helps assess risk.

We’ve also compiled this list from trusted organizations as a starting point and hope you find it helpful.

Our mental well-being is equally as important as our physical health. We hope you’ll join us on our journey to STAND Up for Suicide Prevention and raise awareness of this critical issue in the construction industry.