Construction has second highest rate of suicide among major industries


New study looks at why

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW is feeling depressed or suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) right away.

Mental health and well-being are high priorities for organizations across industries. This was true before COVID-19, and it is even more so now.

Growing mental health concerns exist in the construction industry because it ranks second highest in suicide rates among major industries.

Research shows that up to 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition. Depression is the most common, however other conditions may impact suicide rates including substance use disorders — most commonly alcohol misuse, anxiety, and trauma.

Mental Health and Well-being in the Construction Industry, a 2021 survey sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health, Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), construction risk management company CSDZ and Holmes Murphy insurance brokerage, found multiple factors likely contribute to higher suicide rates and mental health concerns in the construction industry, including:

• Male dominated industry, with men experiencing the highest suicide rates.
• Toughness and strength are valued, mental health conditions, or seeking help, may be seen as personal weakness.
• Stigma and fear of consequences associated with mental health issues and help seeking.
• Shame and fear of judgment.
• Chronic pain.
• Seasonal and cyclical work contributing to family and financial strain.
• High stress and deadline-driven work.
• Limited job control.
• Long work hours including potential for large volume of overtime leading to fatigue.
• Separation from family when working away from home.

The online survey was launched in March 2021 and distributed in all regions of the country by the four sponsoring organizations, along with state chapters of national construction trade associations, Labor unions, and joint Labor-management benefit trusts.

A total of 1,175 respondents completed the online survey, with 26 percent sharing comments on the topics covered in the survey.

Organizations across industries increasingly identify addressing mental health and well-being as a top priority given the impact on safety, quality performance, productivity, employee recruitment and retention, and the bottom line. There is also growing recognition that people will care about an organization’s strategy when they believe that the organization cares for their well-being.

With a caring organizational culture, mental health is visible, not with a “one-and-done” approach, but with a sustained commitment of engaging workers by distributing resources, tools, and programs through multiple channels. This increases the likelihood that workers will feel psychologically safe to seek help when it’s needed and discuss mental health issues that may be impacting work performance, productivity, and peer interactions with supervisors or co-workers.

Many survey respondents said they do not believe that construction workers feel comfortable openly discussing mental health with supervisors (37 percent), while others were either undecided (31 percent) or did not know (15 percent). Only 17 percent thought workers would discuss mental health issues with their supervisors.

When asked if employees feel comfortable openly discussing mental health with co-workers, only 18 percent agreed, with 31 percent undecided, 31 percent disagreeing, and 20 percent saying they did not know.

Clearly, there is more work to be done

To read the full survey results with links to available resources visit

If you or someone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right away.



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