Mates in Construction program

A SUICIDE prevention program aimed at reducing deaths among construction workers - a figure up to six times higher than the national average for men - will be launched in South Australia on Thursday.

 

A SUICIDE prevention program aimed at reducing deaths among construction workers - a figure up to six times higher than the national average for men - will be launched in South Australia on Thursday. The Mates in Construction program is adapted from a Queensland scheme that has intervened in 47 suicide attempts since 2008.

State chief executive Michelle Brown said the program trained workers to recognise the warning signs and support their colleagues by connecting them to expert help.

"The nature of the industry - it's male dominated and there is still that culture of not being able to talk about their feelings," she said.

Other factors included long working hours, higher rates of drinking and low job security.

Ms Brown said that could lead to relationship and financial problems - two of the risk factors for suicide.

"A construction worker is up to 10 times more likely to die from suicide than from an accident at work," Ms Brown said. "This training allows workers to recognise when a mate may be in difficulty or even contemplating suicide, and will give them the necessary skills to keep their mates safe whilst connecting them to help.

" A Queensland study which led to the development of the federal government-funded program found half of those who had died by suicide had told someone beforehand that they were at risk. One in four had made a previous suicide attempt.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show there were 2361 deaths from suicide in 2010 and 1816 of them were men.The chairman of the SA program, Baulderstone general manager Michael Harper, said the scheme provided a critical link between services and work sites across the state where many mental health issues may not be addressed otherwise.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler said the program would "help to drive down suicide rates across the construction industry".

Companies already signed up include Baulderstone, Leighton, Laing O'Rourke, WATPAC and Lend Lease. Anyone can contact Mates in Construction's phone support service on 1300 642 111.For information about suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14, the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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