Mental Health problems no longer have the same level of stigma and discrimination attached to them, but people are still suffering in silence, reluctant to speak out. With world suicide prevention day just around the corner, the campaign for awareness is stepping up to help those suffering to speak out; in particular, men.
Worryingly, in the UK alone someone takes their own life every 90 minutes and in 2014, 76% of all suicides were attempted by men. Today, suicide remains the single biggest cause of death in men under 45 in Great Britain.
According to the Samaritans, in the construction industry alone, suicide kills six times as many workers than accidents including falls from height.
With statistics showing that the highest suicide rate is among males aged 45-59, the biggest risk factors include depression and mental illness which could be attributed to work related stress, money troubles and even addiction.
Speaking at an industry event, Will Skinner, Samaritans regional partnerships officer said “With the amount of energy being put into managing physical risk; you have to question whether the industry is getting the health and safety balance right”
Skinner also noted that the risk of death by suicide is increased by up to 10 times for men who come from poorer economic backgrounds. With the construction industry known for its notorious macho culture, the reason for the presentation was to start an initiative to address mental health issues and achieve an outcome that looks to challenge wider prejudices.
The Samaritans presented their findings at a seminar hosted by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA); the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA); and Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers. A member of each organisation spoke about the positive steps that the industry has taken to address these issues.
Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of BESA stated: “Both large and small companies share the same concerns, but many simply don’t know how to deal with this,” he said. “The first thing you have to do is acknowledge there is an issue, which is why we are now working with Samaritans.”
With awareness at the forefront of the industries minds, a celebrity led campaign “it’s ok to talk” has also shed further light on the issue, taking social media by storm.
Originally set-up after Luke Ambler, an Irish International Rugby player for Halifax, found out that his brother–in-law had taken his life the campaign is looking to encourage men to talk about their problems and emotions.
With the likes of Ricky Gervais already on board, all you need to do to show your support is post a selfie with the universal hand gesture for “it’s OK”.
World suicide prevention day is on 10th September 2016 – For more information please visit: www.samaritans.org