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March 3-7, 2026

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3 suicide prevention techniques for construction businesses



For immediate help, access the following resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Free & confidential in the U.S., operators working 24/7. Call 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). 

Use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat or connect to a crisis counselor via text: Text “HELLO” to 741741.

Sadly, the construction industry has one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. This is found at all levels of the industry. Suicide is nuanced and often directly tied to opioid use, but is still a huge issue. The suicide rate in construction is twice that of working men in the U.S. 

There are countless reasons why the industry is at higher risk for suicide, but there is a particular culture of quiet we tend to associate with a “toughen up” mentality. Men working in hard labor jobs like construction are told to “man up” and face their burdens alone and quietly. Keep your head down and keep on keepin’ on.  

That is the first thing that must stop.

1. Talk about the risks

“When I talk about it online, [viewers] reach out to me and they say, ‘I appreciate you sharing because I’ve had a lot of these feelings. But seeing someone else just talk about it makes me feel like I’m not crazy… Like there’s a way out of this,’” Aaron Witt, Build Witt, said during a panel at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023. “We could go down the list of factors playing into this – the suck it up kind of vibe in the industry – but first and foremost we just need to talk about it.” 

The good news is there are many ways to start a conversation about suicide. CPWR – The Center for Construction research and Training has a whitepaper on workshop details specifically targeted at starting the conversation, offering training and resources to help construction workers get – and offer – help. 

When we are open and honest about suicide, we can share resources effectively rather than reinforcing a stigma.

2. Caring after clocking out

What are your workers and colleagues facing when they get home? Do they have a support system? During the panel, Michelle Walker, CCIFP, CRIS, SPHR, SSC Underground, spoke about a situation where a worker pulled a colleague aside to talk and this colleague spoke about his struggles and how he was failing himself and his family. Walker and another manager brought the workers into the office to discuss how they could help – and the worker asked his colleague directly, “Are you thinking about committing suicide?” 

The response was instantaneous. The workers banded together to create a call sheet where each person took time around the clock to call their colleague and just talk. 

When you build a culture that encourages healthy communication and even provides a way to facilitate these conversations, a universally human thing happens: we all want to help. It’s easy to get swept up into the numbers – costs, profits, downtime – but care must be fostered and encouraged to grow.

3. Build hope

We all face challenges. There will be minor inconveniences and huge, life-changing tragedies, but we all have some level of resiliency. Sometimes the onslaught is constant, and it gets harder to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. 

“Suicide happens when hope is gone,” Walker said during the panel. “That’s really the formula for suicide.” 

Often, people need to be physically well to be mentally well, especially in a labor-intensive job like the construction industry. Do you know what challenges your people are physically facing? For example, access to healthy food at affordable prices varies and is likely to get replaced by some chips and a soda for convenience. Injuries in the industry are common. Harmful addictions are rarely acknowledged and can quickly lead to thoughts of suicide. You can’t always provide a healthy meal for every worker, injuries don’t heal overnight and recovery from an addiction is a long road. What you can do is make sure your workers always have a sense of hope. 

People can’t always work in physical labor due to injuries, but maybe you need someone to start working on new technologies you want to implement in your business. Cross-training your workers and making sure they have the education needed to shift job roles could be the first step into fostering a sense of hope.  

If a worker is injured, being able to work is going to be one of the very first worries – how will I pay these medical bills? How will I provide for my family? Educating workers helps them return in a way that is safe and future proofs your business. If you always have workers who are prepared for the next “big thing,” everyone wins. 

Final thoughts 

National Suicide Prevention Week usually begins the week after Labor Day. This year, it’s Sept. 10-16, but the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) also calls September National Suicide Prevention Month. Each year, AFSP chooses a campaign to highlight, this year’s being “Talk Away the Dark.” The campaign highlights the importance of speaking honestly and openly about suicide in an ongoing effort to prevent it, but it also places an importance on hopeful messaging. 

When you care, your workers and colleagues care, too. Help them help build hope for themselves – and each other. 

For immediate help, access the following resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Free & confidential in the U.S., operators working 24/7. Call 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). 

Use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat or connect to a crisis counselor via text: Text “HELLO” to 741741.

Photo credit: shisuka/BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

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