Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45,900 people died from suicide in 2020, the twelfth leading cause of death in the US.  


Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background, but they seem to be prevalent for those working in the construction industry. According to the CDC, suicide rates are significantly higher in construction. The CDC’s report shows among males, suicide is higher in construction than in all other industries, save mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction.   

As September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it’s an ideal time to raise awareness about this topic in construction.  

Construction Work May Lead to Mental Health Issues 

The nature of construction work itself can lead to mental health issues. There are several key factors that can contribute to mental health issues in construction. Some of these are related to the physical aspects of the work and include: 

  • Long workdays 
  • Difficult, tiring labor 
  • Harsh environmental conditions 
  • Pain from injury or overuse 

In fact, injury and chronic pain, common in construction work, can actually contribute to employees’ anxiety, stress and depression.   

There are other risk factors for mental health issues in the construction industry. According to CSDZ, these risk factors include: 

  • Low social image of the construction industry 
  • Barriers to adequate medical health care and behavioral health services 
  • End-of-project furloughs and seasonal layoffs 
  • Worker lifestyle choices with respect to nutrition, exercise, alcohol and substance abuse 

Perhaps the biggest improvement in addressing the mental health needs of those in the construction industry is to recognize the extent of this “silent epidemic” and take steps to remove the stigma associated with getting help. Construction employers need to take stock of the mental health benefits they offer and ensure employees know they are available and how to access them. 

Take Steps to Recognize Suicide Risk in Construction 

OSHA has launched campaigns to prevent suicide in the construction industry including developing a Suicide and Crisis hotline using the three-digit code 988 that workers can call to help cope with work-related stress. 

OSHA offers employers several resources for employers can use like videos, toolbox talk topics and other materials that outline suicide prevention. One such is a poster, detailed below, that can be downloaded from OSHA’s website. 

Be Aware 

Everyone can prevent suicide. Mental health and suicide can be difficult to talk about—especially with work colleagues—but your actions can make a difference. When you work closely with others, you may sense when something is wrong. 

Pay Attention 

Know the warning signs of suicide. There is no single cause for suicide but there are warning signs. Changes in behavior, mood, or even what they say may signal someone is at risk. Take these signs seriously. It could save a life.  

Reach Out 

Ask “Are you okay?” If you are concerned about a coworker, talk with them privately, and listen without judgment. Encourage them to reach out to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the human resources (HR) department, or a mental health professional. 

Take Action 

If someone is in crisis, stay with them and get help. If you believe a coworker is at immediate risk of suicide, stay with them until you can get further help. Contact emergency services or the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. 

Learn More 

Suicide prevention resources are available. 

  • Call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 
  • Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( to learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what you can do to help prevent suicide. 

Take advantage of Suicide Prevention Month to raise your workers’, and your own, awareness about suicide.