September 18, 2023

Four Steps to Create a Blueprint for Suicide Prevention

When you think of a construction team member, what is the image that comes to your mind?

Most likely, it’s a male – someone tough who is committed to doing what it takes to get the job done. Willing to work long hours, in all weather. Dedicated and strong. That is true of so many of our industry’s team members. But those traits that make the construction industry great also make our colleagues more at risk for experiencing mental health issues.

Men, especially, working in construction have one of the highest suicide rates compared to other industries, according to the CDC: a reported 49.4 out of 100,000, or twice the total suicide rate for civilian working men. All month long in September, the industry is spreading awareness on how to prevent suicide. 

What can you do to help your company participate fully in Suicide Prevention Month?

Read on for four practical steps to help you create an action plan.


Understand the risks that increase a person’s risk for suicide.

Long hours, long commutes, time away from family, sleep deprivation, physically strenuous and dangerous working conditions, fast-paced projects, worker shortages, physical injuries and changing project needs can pile stress on a construction worker. Some people opt to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Veterans – also at higher risk for suicide – also are frequently hired in the industry. For many, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a factor. 

By understanding how and why your team is at risk, you can tailor your messaging during trainings, stand downs and toolbox talks. For more risk factors and signs, go to:


Involve your leadership.

Many construction companies have already committed to fostering safety at all times, but fewer have taken mental health into account. To create a culture where mental health and suicide prevention is a priority, you need internal champions who will lead the efforts. 

To be most effective, use both your company’s top executives to share simple videos saying why mental health is important. Then, combine it with trusted and respected field leaders who take it a step further – checking in with peers regularly and asking how everyone feels about the campaign, what questions they have. Your project’s leadership can be your best advocate for a suicide prevention initiative. Just like your Foreman points out a safety risk, they can say: “Hey, if you are struggling, it’s ok to tell me. We care about you.”  

Making this a reality does not have to be complicated. Messages should be simple – real language, focused on themes that each worker in cared about. Videos can be captured on cell phones and shared on a company’s intranet or communication platform like MindForge, which also allows people to acknowledge receipt of messages on the platform. People can also ask questions on the MindForge platform


Use your technology.

Mental health experts share that most suicide crises are time-limited and result in impaired problem-solving. For these reasons, people in crisis need access to information and experts quickly and easily. 

But the resource needs to be ready when callers need it – quickly and anonymously. When help is available 24/7 from anywhere, the hotline option removes the barriers of cost, travel, and waitlists to provide people in crisis an immediate response.

Post emergency numbers such as the national toll-free number, 1-800-273-8255 as well as jobsite emergency numbers on your company’s intranet or in communications platform like MindForge. This will allow team members to reach experts who can offer resources and assist with getting help for suicidal thoughts.

Ideally, you want to make sure that each worker acknowledges the posting – so that even if they don’t think they will need it, they know where to find the information if a crisis arises. And, by putting in emergency and hotline numbers in the MindForge platform, team members can get access to help with just a few taps – without even having to input the phone number. 


Know what resources exist.

Creating workplace strategies to help prevent suicides and increase employee access to mental health services doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or time-intensive. Use existing resources to help create impactful opportunities that will also promote a protective environment for workers, including assessing and referring employees to services that can provide help.

MindForge has created complimentary access to Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s six-part Suicide Prevention video series and 5-part toolbox talks educational materials will be provided to clients and the wider community. Resources will be shared via Mindforge message center throughout the month. Participation will require onboarding onto the MindForge portal. 

If you are not a member and are interested, go to:

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