National Suicide Prevention Week

Published: 11 Sep 2023 ・ Read time: 4 mins
National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual campaign that raises awareness about suicide and aims to fight the stigma surrounding it. Suicide prevention is an important topic for everyone - including tradespeople - to ensure we can all have happy, comfortable, and fulfilling lives.
This year, Suicide Prevention Week is being held between the 10th and the 16th of September, with World Suicide Prevention Day being observed internationally on the 10th September. This blog will reflect on some actionable steps tradespeople in our industry can take to raise awareness of suicide prevention day, and how to support those who may be affected.
By having a clear understanding of the main risk factors and signs of poor mental health and potential suicide ideation, we can help create a society where people have the knowledge to help others - as well as themselves.

Suicide Awareness Amongst the Trade

On average, 687 tradespeople die by suicide every year – that's almost two everyday. In 2021 alone, individuals in the trade accounted for 15% of suicides across all industries, and more than 4 in 5 tradespeople say they've experienced some form of mental health problem due to work - far more than you’ll see in any other occupation.
Our mental health can play a crucial factor in our well-being. In many male-dominated trades, individuals can be unwilling or unable to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health issues can often become worse if ignored and left untreated, and the consequences can sometimes be fatal. 
Did you know that plumbers, along with and heating and ventilating engineers, are 98% male-dominated? The average plumber is currently in their 50s, so they are often overlooked when it comes to depression and other mental health issues.
This is why we urge employers and employees to work together to create cultures where everyone can speak openly and honestly about their mental health, without fear of stigma or discrimination.
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Important Suicide Risk Factors for Tradespeople

There is no single reason why tradespeople decide to end their life. Sociological, economic, psychological, and genetic factors can all contribute to a person being at greater risk of suicide.
One sociological factor that impacts everyone is stress. Tradespeople especially are vulnerable to stress at work, which can lead to a significant risk of suicide. 79% of tradespeople say they have been affected by work-related stress, and 7% of UK adults report that they feel stressed daily. 
With the cost of living crisis affecting us all, it could potentially mean plumbers are having a more challenging time looking for clients. This difficulty to find clients and jobs can lead to more stress and worse mental health. 
  • Some ways to increase opportunities for work includes learning how to install renewable energy equipment, such as heat pumps or solar panels - in order to ‘stand out from the crowd’ and get the jobs many traditional professionals would miss out on.
Alongside the issues with There are many other risk factors that can have a significant impact on tradespeople, such as;
  • Financial trouble
  • Living alone
  • Life-changing events, such as a breakup or losing a loved one
  • Having a physical health condition caused by a work injury - especially if this causes chronic pain or severe disability
Tradespeople may feel uncomfortable talking about suicidal feelings - however, doing so can potentially save a life. 
If you know anyone in the trade who might be affected by these risk factors, encourage them to talk about their feelings. It can be reassuring for the individual to know that you are not judgmental. If they - or anyone else - tells you about their mental health struggles, you should empathise with what they are saying, let them know that you care about them, and tell them they are not alone.
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How Can Tradespeople Support Each Other?

Suicide rates among construction employees in the UK are over three times the national average, so learning how suicide can impact the workplace and raising awareness within organisations about suicide and suicide prevention can be life-saving. 
It is important to always be supportive of colleagues and peers. However, you must always be mindful that not everyone will feel comfortable talking about their experiences or struggles. Simply asking  “how are you?” could make them uncomfortable. If they find it difficult to talk about their experience it could make matters worse. For example, someone may have lost a loved one and feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings, so they may instead start isolating themself. 
It's recommended that any employees or tradespeople suffering with mental or physical health issues devise a return to work action plan. This is a set of guidelines that lays out procedures for dealing with work-related injuries or mental health illnesses. It aims to help individuals ease back into a work environment without feeling overwhelmed.
You might be asking yourself, how can you have these sensitive conversations at work?
It's important to be gentle with the individual when having these kind of conversations.,  Simply starting a conversation by saying, “I understand that this is difficult, do you want to talk about it?” can make all the difference. 
By being authentic and delicate, you will be able to support yourself and others with their mental health without feeding into stigma and shame. Be sure not to assume you know everything about a situation that may be happening. Remember to stay kind, respectful, and compassionate above all else.
Our own thoughts can be intrusive, so it's important to acknowledge them and be gentle with yourself. If you are feeling suicidal, it’s important to speak to someone you trust.
Practical things like staying hydrated, keeping warm, and simple meditation can help us to understand and work through our emotions and feelings.
If you’re struggling with your mental health and feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to, try reaching out to a charity or a mental health hotline. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call 111, option 2 to speak to a mental health counsellor through the NHS. You can also find information on local and national mental health services through the NHS or your local surgery. Some of the charities that run in the UK are:
  • Band of Builders: An active community of over 50,000 builders, committed to helping tradespeople in need.
  • Mind: 0300 123 3393 (9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
  • SANE: 0300 304 7000 (4pm to 10pm, daily
  • CALM: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm to midnight, daily)

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