Suicide Prevention; Here study shows more support for mental health interventions and education initiatives aimed at suicide prevention in the building industry is needed, says Andy Walmsley, a clinical psychology doctoral student based in Massey’s School of Psychology in Wellington. He chose his thesis topic in order to offer practical help to address New Zealand’s tragically high suicide statistics. In 2018, 668 people took their own lives, up from 540 in 2008. Of these, 75% were men.

suicide of any workplace

Mr Walmsley says he had been to too many funerals over the years for mates who had taken their own lives. So he decided he needed to do something. Through his research he hopes to understand; also ultimately help to reduce and prevent suicides in the building industry specifically, because it has the highest rate of suicide of any workplace. Almost seven% of working-age male suicides were by workers in the building industry, according to a 2016 report by the Suicide Mortality Review Committee.

His research explores men’s perceptions of seeking help from different support sources; also explore any barriers men may experience when seeking help for mental health issues. For his study he has recruited 562 men currently working in the New Zealand building sector from Dunedin to Auckland in range of trades and worksites, and aged between 20 and 65.

A separate report he co author which was present at the SafeGuard conference in Auckland earlier this month; hence provides a comprehensive picture of stress factors and at-risk groups. The researchers analyse the content of 300 coroners’ close case files of construction workers in New Zealand who died by suicide between 2007 and 2017. Depression and substance use were identify as the most common mental health problems among the sample.

Costs of running a business

The Site Safe Report (2019), co-fund by the Building Research Association NZ (BRANZ) through the Building Research Levy and Site Safe, reveals that suicides occur across a range of trades and professions, including painters, electricians, engineers, machinery operators, plumbers, plasterers, labourers, concrete workers, roofers; so with builders representing the highest number at 21% of suicides in the sector. Most deaths were among the 18 to 22 and 40 to 45 year age groups.

While only a small proportion of the sample were self employ business owners; so they were twice as likely to have work relate factors; which describe in their case files compare to the rest of the sample. Stressors relate to business ownership were often financial, with tax obligations; also business debts and the costs of running a business frequently mention by coroners.

It also calls for industry leadership to “minimise or eliminate the risk of mental harm to its workforce; so particularly for those down the supply chain” and to embrace evidence base suicide prevention; also mental health education initiatives by using existing resources such as the Australian base program MATES in Construction; also currently being trialled in one Auckland construction site.

Mr Walmsley’s thesis will explore men’s perceptions; so of seeking help through “shoulder-to-shoulder or peer support interventions. This can include integrating elements of therapy into sport, cooking classes, building, and outdoor activities. Shoulder-to-shoulder interventions have shown to be effective at engaging men into mental health services in Britain.