Why MATES Exists – Are suicide rates high in the construction industry?

The simple answer is yes.

Research has been conducted that reveals some sobering facts.

Every year 190 Australians working in the construction industry take their own lives, this means we lose a construction worker every second day to suicide.

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work.  For our young workers, the facts are that they are well over two times more likely to take their own lives than other young Australian men.

For workers in the construction industry, suicide seems to be a part of the reality of working in the industry. Work within the industry is highly transient with most workers employed on a project by project basis, for periods from a few weeks, to at best a few years.

Other research has shown us that workers find it difficult to discuss feelings and emotions with colleagues at work and the nature of the work made social support more difficult. Pride was identified as an issue with saying they had a problem being seen as not manly. Participants of the research held a strong belief that suicide was an impulsive act and that someone intending to take their own life would show no signs and would not discuss it.

Recommendations from research conducted in the industry recommended that a campaign raising awareness, about mental health and wellbeing, combined with good gate keeper training, should be implemented in combination with an industry specific program for workers with suicidal thoughts.

So the MATES in Construction program was developed.