‘Mind Our Workers’ campaign aimed at reducing construction suicides

An estimated 1,039 men from a construction or production background died by suicide between 2008 and 2012.That shocking statistic is the impetus behind a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of suicide and mental health throughout the construction industry.

‘Mind Our Workers’ is a joint campaign organised by Pieta House and the Construction Industry Federation . The campaign aims to encourage more communication about suicide and mental health on construction sites and amongst construction workers around the country.

A report which examines the level of suicide in the construction sector has been published as part of the campaign. Among the other key statistics highlighted in the report are:

  • Every week in Ireland 10 people die by suicide;
  • 8 out of those 10 are men;
  • 6,520 suicides took place in Ireland between 2000 and 2012;
  • 5,263 of those suicides were by men (81%);
  • 2,137 male suicides took place in Ireland between 2008 and 2012; and
  • Of the 116,700 people working in the construction sector, 108,300 are men (93% of the overall total).

Speaking about the campaign, Pieta House CEO Brian Higgins said, “We are delighted to initiate and launch the Mind Our Workers campaign in partnership with the CIF. It is extremely encouraging that a national body as influential as the CIF sees the impact of suicide on the construction industry and its employees and is partnering with an organisation such as ourselves to help tackle the issue. Partnerships such as this are a way of building resilience within our society”.

Tom Parlon, CIF Director General backed Mr Higgins’ comments saying, “As the statistics highlight, the level of suicide in the construction sector is shocking. The industry can’t ignore this problem – there is a necessity to take steps to try to help those in need. Given the amount of time people spend in the workplace, that is where the Mind Our Workers campaign will focus. By promoting a more open approach amongst construction workers and their colleagues we hope it might reduce the number of people who feel they have no way out.”

CIF President Michael Stone also endorsed the Mind Our Workers campaign saying, “We want to help drive awareness of suicide and mental health throughout the construction industry. A greater level of understanding and more open culture about these extremely important issues needs to exist. We want to see a working environment whereby is it acceptable for men to ask their friends and colleagues, “Are you ok?” Men in any walk of life should be able to talk about their problems. We need to take these matters out of the shadows and bring them into the light. If even one life is saved thanks to the awareness and understanding promoted by this campaign then everyone in the CIF and Pieta House will consider the campaign to have been a great success.”

The Mind Our Workers campaign will run throughout the year. The tagline for the campaign is ‘On our sites, in our minds’.

The report will be distributed to all CIF members as well as to members of the Oireachtas and other relevant groups.

The industry can’t ignore the problem of suicide – there is a necessity to take steps to try to help those in need. Given the amount of time people spend in the workplace, that is where the Mind Our Workers campaign will focus. By promoting a more open approach amongst construction workers and their colleagues we hope it might reduce the number of people who feel they have no way out.

Over the course of the campaign, the CIF will be working with Pieta House to organise toolbox talks in the workplace, leaflets will be distributed to members, Pieta House representatives will attend regional CIF briefings to discuss suicide and mental health, digital videos will be developed around these issues and a number of other actions will be taken. What is important is that we as an industry engage on this problem and we all work towards creating greater awareness amongst everyone in the sector.

We are honoured to be working with Pieta House on this campaign. Pieta House are the experts in this field and the work they do to help raise awareness around suicide and to provide hope to those in need is unmatched. Our thanks as well to the Construction Safety Partnership for their support towards the campaign.

All CIF members have a part to play in helping promote this initiative. I would encourage you all to work with the CIF and Pieta House in promoting ‘Mind Our Workers’ throughout your company and amongst your colleagues and friends.

By simply taking a few minutes to talk to our colleagues and offering them a friendly ear, who knows what kind of impact we all could have.

– Tom Parlon – CIF Director General

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