Why MATES Exists: The Problem

Research has been conducted, revealing some sobering facts:

- Every year 190 Australians working in the construction industry take their own lives; this means we lose a construction worker every second day to suicide.

- Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work. For our young workers, the facts are that they are well over two times more likely to take their own lives than other young Australian men.

Why is this happening in the Australian construction, mining and energy sectors?

For workers in the construction industry, suicide seems to be a part of the reality of working in the industry. Work within the industry is highly transient with most workers employed on a project-by-project basis, for periods ranging from a few weeks to at best a few years.

Other research has shown us that workers find it difficult to discuss feelings and emotions with colleagues at work, and the nature of the work has made social support more difficult. ‘Pride’ is identified as an issue: male workers have a problem with not being viewed as ‘manly’. Participants of the research held a strong belief that suicide was an impulsive act and that someone intending to take their own life would show no signs and not discuss it.

Research conducted in the industry recommended that a campaign designed to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing combined with good gatekeeper training, should be implemented in combination with an industry specific program for workers with suicidal thoughts.