Herald Sun

Suicide crisis hits tradies

- BRIGID O’CONNELL

ONE Victorian constructi­on worker commits suicide each month, new data reveals, prompting the launch of a program to train tradies in mental health first-aid on all worksites.

Long working days and clocking on at odd hours, strict constructi­on deadlines amid a statewide building boom, job instabilit­y and a lack of control about the working day are some of the pressures that constructi­on industry leaders say may add to the complex mix of personal and psychologi­cal issues that lead to self-harm.

Suicides in the commercial constructi­on industry — which makes up about 40 per cent of the state constructi­on workforce — have gone from two a year in 2016-2017, to one every 40 days over the last financial year, and one every 30 days already this year.

The deaths were reported to the industry’s insurance and counsellin­g provider, Incolink.

The trend mirrors the national increase in the suicide rate, with Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting this month the rate had hit a 10-year high, with 3128 people — or more than eight a day — taking their own life in Australia last year.

Incolink will today launch the Bluehats program, which will see specially trained tradies and managers appearing on constructi­on sites in blue hard hats to lend an ear to stressed colleagues and direct them to profession­al support. FOR SUPPORT, PHONE LIFELINE ON 131 114 OR THE SUICIDE CALLBACK SERVICE ON 1300 659 467

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