September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month


Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.


The week of Sept 5-12 has been designated as Suicide Prevention Week with Friday, Sept. 10 being identified as World Suicide Prevention Day.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts led by AGC-MO and Washington University’s School of Medicine, local construction companies and several trade unions, are planning to join OSHA in a number of Suicide Prevention Stand-Downs across the St. Louis region during the week of Sept 5. For details, contact Brandon Anderson (AGC-MO’s VP-Safety) at

I am honored to have been recently appointed as the director of Worker Wellness for the Mo AFL-CIO’s Missouri Works Initiative (MWI). In part, the MWI worker wellness program was created to help ensure workers across the state of Missouri are well-informed when it comes to issues of workplace safety…both physical and mental aspects.

For a number of years, Labor leaders have expressed their concerns when it comes to the increase of deaths related to substance abuse and suicide. Without a doubt, Mental Health has come to the forefront due to the impact of COVID-19.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. In 2020, approximately 132 people died by suicide on a daily basis in the USA, that is nearly one person every 11 minutes.

While overdose-related deaths increased by 30 percent, deaths by suicide decreased in 2020 from the prior year. However, do not be fooled by this headline. It is important to note that when it comes to people of color (especially youth) there was an increase during that same time period.

According to CDC data, the construction industry ranks near the top of the list of industrial sectors when it comes to deaths by suicide with Iron Workers and Millwrights ranking as No. 1 (79) and No. 2 (78) per 100,000 males, respectively.

Suicide is often referred to as the silent killer. If we are to decrease suicides in our homes, communities, and industries, then we need to COMMUNICATE.  Ask those around you: How are you doing? Listen…and, then ask again: How are you REALLY doing? Let’s Break the Silence and Stop the Stigma!

If you or someone near to you is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 1-800-273-8255 or text HELP to 741741.

(Dr. John Gaal, CHW, CSP, CWP, a carpenter by trade, retired two years ago after investing 40+ years in the Midwest construction industry as a director of training and workforce development servicing nine registered apprenticeship programs spanning three states. Since retiring, he dedicates time to consulting and training construction employers and employees on matters related to mental health, addiction awareness, and suicide prevention.)


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