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Shedding Light on Mental Health Awareness During Construction Suicide Prevention Week

As we reflect on Construction Suicide Prevention Week (September 4-8, 2023), the sobering reality becomes evident: the construction industry bears the weight of the nation’s second-highest suicide rate, with an estimated 45.3 suicides per 100,000, according to a 2020 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The impact of this issue is undeniable and far-reaching, touching the lives of many in our field.

In an effort to move past the stigma and raise awareness around mental health, Jim Austin, Regional Safety Manager at Russell, shared his deeply personal experience and reflections about a dear friend, Jason, whose story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of addressing mental wellbeing in the construction industry.

“My best friend, Jason, was many things to many people – a highly respected foreman union carpenter, father of two daughters, a former college football player, a contender in the World’s Strongest Man Contest, and a wonderful friend.

From the outside, Jason was the most cheerful, funny, and full-of-life guy you could ever meet. He seemed to have it all figured out with his large frame and larger-than-life personality. He was a gentle, kind person who would do anything for anyone without hesitation. I have never encountered anyone quite like him in my life, and I doubt I ever will.

I knew that Jason struggled with personal life issues as most of us do, but I never realized the weight of the burdens that he was carrying.

Tragically, Jason died by suicide over a decade ago, and we, his family, and friends, continue to grapple with the void he left behind.

Jason was not the type to burden others with his problems, and I believed he carried his troubles in silence, as many people do. Looking back, I wish he had confided in me because I know I could have offered support. It’s painful to realize that I didn’t see the signs, signs that, in hindsight, should have been glaringly obvious.

Jason’s story serves as a stark reminder that we should never hesitate to seek help when we need it. If you find yourself struggling, confide in your friends and family. Reach out to a professional if needed. Death is a final step from which there is no return, so speak out while you still can. Don’t let the fear of judgment hold you back. There are compassionate individuals ready to lend a helping hand, and numerous programs available to provide support and guidance.”

Resources to Save Lives:

Call, Text, or Chat 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.