Aetna, Construction Forum, AFL-CIO offering suicide prevention tools at July 31 mental health program

FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION: Dr. John Gaal (left), director of the Missouri Works Initiative’s worker wellness program, led a panel discussion May 15 on Mental Health in Construction with Dr. Andrew Loiterstein (center), director of programs for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and James Pursell, peer support specialist with the Laborers’ LEAN-STL (Laborers Escaping Addiction Now) peer support program.  – Labor Tribune file photo

Workers in the construction industry have one of the highest suicide rates among occupational groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that male construction workers had a suicide rate approximately four times higher than the national average. Contributing factors include work environment, mental health stigma, substance abuse, economic pressure, and isolation.

But statistics don’t begin to tell the story: Suicide affects not only the individuals but their families, co-workers, and broader community.

A free program series sponsored by Aetna and co-produced by Construction Forum and the Missouri Works Initiative features worker wellness experts who offer practical takeaways that can be put into practice to make a difference.

The first program in the series “Mental Health in the Trades: From Awareness to Action” was held May 15.

The second program, “Mental Health in Construction: Suicide Prevention” will be held July 31  from 7:30 a.m. to  9 a.m. at the LiUNA Event Center, 4532 South Lindbergh. The final program in the series, on substance use disorder, will be presented Sept. 17 at the LiUNA Event center.

The speakers for the July 31 event include:


  • John Gaal, Ed.D., director of worker wellness for the Missouri AFL-CIO Missouri Works Initiative
  • Charvonne Long, MPH, research and evaluation manager, Illume Behavioral Health.
  • Tim Rowden, field advocate/volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and editor-in-chief of the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune.
  • Brandon Anderson, vice president of safety at AGCMO and suicide survivor.

Registration is free, but you must register to attend. To register, visit

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